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Ferrari to spring a livery shock at car launch?


Yesterday (Tuesday), Ferrari issued a 32 word press release confirming that it had extended its partnership agreement with Philip Morris International.

"By virtue of this agreement, Scuderia Ferrari and Philip Morris international continue a collaboration of nearly five decades," it read.

Curiously, on 4 September last year the Italian team issued almost the same press release.

"Ferrari N.V. announces that Scuderia Ferrari has renewed its multi-year partnership with Philip Morris International," it read. "The agreement continues the collaboration of over 40 years between Philip Morris International and Scuderia Ferrari."

Assuming that there wasn't a break in the partnership in the intervening five months, one has to wonder why the Italian team felt the need to repeat the message.

Or was it a reminder?

Today, Philip Morris International (PMI), owner of Marlboro, announced its revolutionary smoke-free vision.

Revealing that it is to work with Ferrari, PMI says its extended partnership with the Italian team is all about "advancing the cause of a smoke-free world".

"We want to give the world's 1.1 billion men and women who smoke the opportunity to make better and informed choices," said PMI chief executive, Andre Calantzopoulos. "We are committed to use all available resources, including our motorsports-related activities, to accelerate momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of people who smoke, public health and society at large. We deeply appreciate Scuderia Ferrari's support in this cause."

"Creating global awareness of the opportunity presented by innovation, science and technology to achieve a smoke-free world is of paramount importance," said PMI is its own press release announcing the extension of its partnership with Ferrari. "In addition to PMI's unwavering commitment to this goal, it is critical that governments, public health experts, the scientific community and civil society embrace the challenge and help put in place a sensible regulatory plan. The men and women who smoke and the people who care about them truly deserve this.

"Scuderia Ferrari is the perfect partner for this challenge," it added, "because it harnesses a pioneering spirit, technology and innovation in a relentless pursuit of great ambitions. Our plan does not envisage any product-specific communications. We expect to announce further details in the coming months."

Following a 22-year relationship with McLaren, in 1996 Marlboro jumped ship to Ferrari, and while the familiar branding disappeared from the Maranello cars in 2007 - two years after the European Union ban on tobacco advertising in sport began - in the years that followed the Marlboro 'signage' became ever more obscure, but nonetheless the partnership continued.

Currently for a figure thought to be in the region of $100m a year, Marlboro buys all the advertising space on the Ferrari and subsequently subleases it out to the team's various sponsors.

Just twenty-four hours ahead of the launch of the 2018 contender, there is talk that the Ferrari may well appear tomorrow either sporting logos reflecting PMI's smoke-free vision, or, in an even more dramatic move drop a number of sponsor logos. Indeed, was the decision to revert to the iconic shield for its social media accounts late last year the first step?

However, might such a move, should it happen, have all the hallmarks of a statement from Ferrari, which, in its ongoing spat with Liberty Media, has already threatened to leave F1 for a new series.

At a time there is virtually no free-to-air TV coverage of F1 in its home country, would a car with few logos send a message to Liberty?

The idea of a Ferrari with few logos is one thing, then again so is the idea of PMI essentially turning its back on tobacco.

However, in the broader sense, a Ferrari appearing with few sponsor decals could send shockwaves through the F1 paddock, for if the Maranello outfit, or PMI, sees less point (or value) in logos – even if it is a bid to direct attention to a cause or message - what hope those teams still struggling to find new backers.

If it happens, the ramifications for the sport could be seismic, but then again PMI announcing that it is going smoke-free is like McDonald's announcing that as from Friday it will be meat-free.

Thus far it's merely speculation... however, watch this space.


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1. Posted by itc, 21/02/2018 21:32

"I'm pretty sure PMI aren't going nicotine-free, the new sponsorship deal will probably be to promote their next "safe" delivery system for this well known and highly addictive poison."

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2. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 21/02/2018 21:30

"I reckon the car will still be a familiar Ferrari and PMI red."

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3. Posted by Amspeed, 21/02/2018 13:31 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 21/02/2018 13:33)

"Re. Post 2: I do get the point but does the 'average' fan (read 'consumer')? I'm sorry but, on the surface, it IS initially about the colour of the car. The message here from Marlboro (and Ferrari) is very commendable but is this the immediate platform through which to convey it. I like to watch Formula One but in doing so do I want to be told what I should or should not be doing with my life. Telling me to buy a certain brand of product is one thing, telling me I shouldn't be using that product at all is another. There are other more subtle ways in which to do this. Sorry, I have to disagree with you on this one. "

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4. Posted by Amspeed, 21/02/2018 13:15

"Oh, the irony (II)! A sponsorship deal where the message is 'Our product sucks. Please don't buy it!' This has to be a first. But wait... We've been subject to the past year or so of Heineken telling us 'Don't Drink'. The world is indeed now standing on its head!"

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5. Posted by Editor, 21/02/2018 13:05

"@ Amspeed

Sorry but yours is a surprisingly dumb post.

The article isn't about the colour of the car it is about the fact that somebody is making a statement. What that statement is and who is making it remains to be seen, as do the ramifications.

If it happen, the last thing people will be talking about the colour of the car."

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6. Posted by Amspeed, 21/02/2018 12:57

"Oh, the irony! Further to my recent post (see 'Red Bull Reveals Launch Date), the most anticipated feature of the forthcoming launch is what colour the car will be! And here we are. I swear I won't sleep until this major nugget has been announced."

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