SPONSORS: IMPERIAL TOBACCO (EMBASSY)

Name: Imperial Tobacco (Embassy)

Imperial Tobacco dates back to 1901 when a group of British cigarette manufacturers decided to link up to stop James Buchanan of the American Tobacco company from taking over the British tobacco industry. As a result in 1902 American Tobacco and Imperial agreed that each would control its own market area and that together they would establish a third company to sell their brands around the world. The new company was called British American Tobacco. BAT developed a big market in Asia but anti-trust legislation in the United States in 1911 forced American Tobacco to sell its shares in BAT on the London Stock Exchange.

Imperial Tobacco's leading brands were Gold Leaf, Woodbines, Players, JPS, Navy Cut, Number Six and Embassy but in the 1960s the company diversified into other industries.

Imperial was the first commercial company to sponsor a team in Formula 1, using its Gold Leaf brand. In 1971 the firm switched to JPS and then in 1973 decided to sponsor a second team, using the Embassy brand.

IThe team chosen was Graham Hill ÔsHill team. After Hill's death of in 1975 the deal was terminated although Imperial continued to fund JPS sponsorship of Lotus until after the dominant 1978 season.

In the 1980s Imperial returned to F1 with JPS once again sponsoring Team Lotus and the deal continued until the end of 1986. By then Imperial had been taken over by corporate raider the Hanson Trust and it remained so until 1996 when Hanson decided to float the tobacco business as Imperial Tobacco Group Plc.

The new group announced plans for a major international expansion and in 2002 it paid $5.1bn for the German tobacco company Reemtsma, the owner of McLaren title sponsor West.

Print