The Ferrari F10 has the Marlboro barcode logo as part of its livery
The European Public Health Commissioner and several top doctors have called for an immediate investigation into the relationship between Ferrari and Marlboro, claiming that “subliminal advertising” is being used on the Ferrari F1 cars.
The Times is reporting that an enquiry may begin regarding the barcode design on the Ferrari cars and drivers’ overalls. Currently, tobacco sponsorship is banned in F1, although situations like this have occured before, like the “Be On Edge” livery used by Jordan in 2003, which refers to Benson and Hedges.
A spokesperson for the European Public Health Commissioner has described the barcode design as “potential subliminal advertising”, and they are pushing the British and Spanish governments to investigate this matter, and declare if Marlboro and Ferrari’s actions are illegal. John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Director of the tobacco advisory group, has said:
"The bar code looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro
I was stunned when I saw it. This is pushing at the limits. If
you look at how the bar code has evolved over the last four years,
it looks like creeping branding."
Ferrari have released their own statement, saying that:
"The bar code is part of the livery of the car, it is not part of
a subliminal advertising campaign. 100 million dollars (per year)
is not a correct figure; we are not disclosing the figure but it
is lower than the figure you mention."
Whether or not the barcode design can be declared as an advertising logo, we will soon find out. However, despite the fact that the Marlboro name only appears in the official full Ferrari team name (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro), there is no denying the tobacco company is well known in Formula 1.
To prove my point, have a look at that LG F1 survey that went round a few months back. One of the questions asked what the viewer thought were the 5 brands that sprung to mind when they thought of Formula 1, and Marlboro was in the top 5 overall when the results were published. This is despite the fact that the Marlboro name does not appear, at any point, in any Formula 1 broadcast.