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Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Ferrari-Marlboro F1 sponsorship deal provokes anger of the health lobby
Health experts have reacted with fury to news that one of the world's largest tobacco firms has renewed its sponsorship of the Ferrari motor-racing team.
In a one-sentence press release, "Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro" recently said it had "extended its collaboration agreement with Philip Morris International to the end of 2015".
Some estimates suggest the deal could be worth up to $100m (£62m) to the Formula One team, which has been sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes since 1984.
The EU banned tobacco advertising in motorsport in 2007. But the new deal means the team's name away from the track – and on parts of its website – remains Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.
Both Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have written to Jean Todt, president of Formula One's governing body, the FIA, urging him to investigate the deal.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said the deal gave Ferrari "an unfair advantage over other teams which no longer take tainted tobacco industrysponsorship".
Professor John Britton, chair of the RCP's tobacco advisory group and director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, said the deal appeared to breach EU laws prohibiting tobacco sponsorship.
Britton suggested that the real value of the deal lay in continuing the "subliminal" links between the two brands. He said the red, black and white colours of Ferrari bore a close resemblence to those of Marlboro, creating strong links between the two companies.
"People are aware Ferrari is sponsored by Marlboro," he added, "and the positive assets of the Ferrari team – things like danger and manliness – all translate to the brand."
Last year Ferrari removed a barcode livery from its Formula One cars after complaints that it resembled Marlboro branding.
Anne Edwards, director external communications, at Philip Morris International, declined to comment on the value of the sponsorship deal.
"We believe that our partnership agreement with Ferrari complies with all applicable laws," she said. "Today, there is no Marlboro branding
on any Ferrari cars, driver uniforms or track signage in any Formula One races