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Tobacco linked sponsors dropped from F1 cars for 2019 Australian Grand Prix

Tobacco linked sponsors dropped from F1 cars for 2019 Australian Grand Prix
March 15, 2019

The McLaren Racing and Scuderia Ferrari Formula One teams have confirmed that their tobacco related sponsorships have been dropped from their cars competing in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

British American Tobacco (BAT) yesterday announced that it would not feature its  'A Better Tomorrow' livery on McLaren’s F1 car, instead passing its branding rights for the race to convenience store chain 7-Eleven, one of the firm’s main retail partners in Australia.

The move follows Philip Morris International’s decision to drop its ‘Mission Winnow’ campaign from the official team name, car livery and driver overalls at Scuderia Ferrari for the Melbourne race.

Both the 'A Better Tomorrow' and ‘Mission Winnow’ are promoted as ‘awareness’ campaigns supposedly highlighting tobacco alternatives, although the Mission Winnow logo - made up of a red ‘M’ and red ‘W’ in between two white chevrons - is almost identical to PMI’s Marlboro white-and-red chevron that used to adorn the Ferrari F1 car.

However, with both the Federal Government’s Department of Health, and Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services, investigating whether the branding is in breach of tobacco advertising laws the F1 teams and their sponsors have adopted to avoid a confrontation by voluntarily removing the branding.

In an email to the Reuters news agency, a McLaren spokesperson said that BAT had decided ‘in advance not to brand the car or team with A Better Tomorrow but instead pass their branding rights onto Seven Eleven for this race’.

Despite removing its branding this weekend, Philip Morris, whose Mission Winnow campaign first appeared during last season’s Japanese Grand Prix, has said that it will remain the team’s title sponsor.

SportBusiness Sponsorship quoted a McLaren staff member advising that BAT was “mindful” of the Australian authorities’ tough stance on tobacco advertising in making its decision.

McLaren and BAT have confirmed that A Better Tomorrow will feature at the next grand prix in Bahrain on 31st March. Mission Winnow branding will also return in Bahrain with Scuderia Ferrari.

The branding will presumably continue for the remainder of the season although confrontations may loom in other nations with anti-tobacco advertising legislation.

Image: Ferrari's new red and white livery with the 'Mission Winnow' branding.

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