Apr 29, 2010 at 09:37 PM
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Ferrari Calls 'Subliminal Sponsorship' Claims Unscientific

For some time, critics have speculated whether Ferrari Racing's red, white and black color scheme was in some part a subliminal ad for Philip Morris, a partner of Ferrari's through the 2011 F1 season. Now some doctors are demanding a Department of Health inquiry into whether the matter violates the EU's tobacco sponsorship regulations. Ferrari addressed the criticism today in this blog post.

Today and in recent weeks, articles have been published relating to the partnership contract between Scuderia Ferrari and Philip Morris International, questioning its legality. These reports are based on two suppositions: that part of the graphics featured on the Formula 1 cars are reminiscent of the Marlboro logo and even that the red colour which is a traditional feature of our cars is a form of tobacco publicity.

Neither of these arguments have any scientific basis, as they rely on some alleged studies which have never been published in academic journals. But more importantly, they do not correspond to the truth. The so called barcode is an integral part of the livery of the car and of all images coordinated by the Scuderia, as can be seen from the fact it is modified every year and, occasionally even during the season. Furthermore, if it was a case of advertising branding, Philip Morris would have to own a legal copyright on it.

The partnership between Ferrari and Philip Morris is now only exploited in certain initiatives, such as factory visits, meetings with the drivers, merchandising products, all carried out fully within the laws of the various countries where these activities take place. There has been no logo or branding on the race cars since 2007, even in countries where local laws would still have permitted it.

The premise that simply looking at a red Ferrari can be a more effective means of publicity than a cigarette advertisement seems incredible: how should one assess the choice made by other Formula 1 teams to race a car with a predominantly red livery or to link the image of a driver to a sports car of the same colour? Maybe these companies also want to advertise smoking! It should be pointed out that red has been the recognised colour for Italian racing cars since the very beginning of motor sport, at the start of the twentieth century: if there is an immediate association to be made, it is with our company rather than with our partner.