Melbourne, Australia, Mar 6 – Ferrari will remove all branding by tobacco giant Philip Morris’s “Mission Winnow” initiative for the opening Formula One race of the year in Melbourne after concerns about cigarette advertising, officials said Wednesday.
Mission Winnow was removed from Ferrari’s official name for the Australian Grand Prix on March 17 after local authorities launched an investigation into whether the team breached laws over tobacco advertising.
A Philip Morris International spokesperson told AFP that Mission Winnow will also not appear on the car or team uniforms in Australia.
“Mission Winnow will remain the title sponsor of Scuderia Ferrari in 2019,” the spokesperson said.
“However, our activation will be different in Australia than in other countries. We will announce additional details in the lead-up to the race in Melbourne.”
A Scuderia Ferrari spokesman told AFP the team expected to return to using the Mission Winnow logo in the Bahrain Grand Prix, the second race of the season, in late March.
The sport’s governing body, the FIA, is opposed to any advertising or sponsoring of cigarettes or tobacco, as our a number of countries staging races like France.
But Philip Morris, which had never stopped sponsoring Ferrari, last October made a public return through its scientific research subsidiary and branded Ferrari cars with its Mission Winnow logo.
They were featured on Ferrari livery during the Japan Grand Prix in October, sparking an investigation by Australia’s communications regulator over whether TV broadcasts of the race breached its ban on tobacco advertising.
The state government of Victoria, which is home to Melbourne, was likewise probing the controversial branding.
Philip Morris said while it had agreed to drop the branding for Australia, it continued to believe it “complies with relevant laws related to our activities around the world”.
“Mission Winnow does not and will not advertise or promote any Philip Morris International-branded tobacco or e-cigarette products,” it added.
“It is meant to challenge preconceptions and spark a conversation, particularly with those who — for ideological reasons — are not yet open to a conversation on the power of science for the progress of society.”
The lure of advertising from the tobacco industry has increased in recent years as Formula One teams struggle to meet their budget requirements.
McLaren cars this season will feature advertising for “A Better Tomorrow”, a British American Tobacco (BAT) scientific research subsidiary linked to less controversial electronic cigarettes.
Whether the logo appears in Melbourne is unclear.
“We will confirm our branding in due course,” a Mclaren spokeswoman told AFP while BAT said whether the car carried the logo “won’t be confirmed before the race weekend”.