SEPTEMBER 1, 2007
Ferrari, tobacco and supercars
The European Union's Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou has written directly to Ferrari, asking the company to end its tobacco sponsorship in Formula 1, arguing that it undermines the goal European goal of ending all cigarette advertising at sporting events. Ferrari is banned from using the Marlboro logos at most events but continues to run the cars in Marlboro colours in Bahrain, Monaco, China and Japan. Images of those races are then beamed into European markets, despite the EU's ban and a determined attempt to stop such activities by the World Health Organisation.
It seems that Kyprianou is now trying to shame Ferrari into action.
"I am certain that finding alternative sponsorship will not constitute a great challenge for such a successful enterprise as Ferrari whose image would no longer be associated with a killing habit," Kyprianou wrote, in a letter which was clearly designed for public consumption. "The best solution would be that Ferrari and Philip Morris proactively decide to end the current sponsorship agreement immediately, a gesture that would be greatly appreciated."
However it should also be looked at taking into account a far bigger picture. The European Commission is keen to reduce emissions from road cars and there is a suggestion that the EU may outlaw supercars. This is due to come up for debate in October. The report into the matter has been written by Liberal Democrat Chris Davies, who is a member of the European Parliament. He wants to ban cars that are capable of doing more than 101mph and calling for health warnings in automotive advertising, pointing out the dangers of CO2 emissions. It would also be made illegal for adverts to say that their cars go faster than the national speed limit. Much of this may be political puff but there is no doubt that Davies wants more aggressive mandatory cuts in CO2 emissions and will sacrifice other parts of the legislation to get this agreed.
There is no doubt that the EU may be more helpful over the supercar issue if Ferrari plays ball over tobacco advertising.