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Jordan lands Benson & Hedges

AS expected, Jordan Grand Prix has landed a major new sponsorship deal but it is not with Camel cigarettes, but rather with Benson & Hedges.

Rumors of a Camel deal and, more recently, Lucky Strike appear to have been attempts by rival F1 teams to disrupt Jordan's dealings with Benson & Hedges.

It is certainly good news for Jordan which has been searching for a big sponsor to help lift the team to the front of the grid. Benson & Hedges is the fifth best-selling cigarette brand in the world, behind Marlboro, Mild Seven, Winston and Camel.

The Jordan deal was unexpected in as much as Benson & Hedges has tended not to be involved in global sponsorships because the brand is owned by different cigarette companies in different regions: outside Europe B&H is owned by British American Tobacco (BAT), while in the United States B&H belongs to Philip Morris. The European B&H market belongs to Gallaher Ltd., a subsidiary of the American Brands corporation.

Jordan's deal is with Gallaher, which means that outside Europe the rival tobacco companies will be getting free advertising for their products!

Gallaher - which has previously been involved in motor racing with the Silk Cut Jaguar team in sportscar racing - supplies nearly half the income of American Brands, although the Connecticut-based firm has been diversifying heavily in recent years away from tobacco. It is now involved in distilling, hardware, home improvement, office supplies and even golf equipment. It owns the Jim Beam and Whyte & Mackay whisky brands and Gilbey's Gin. In 1994 it sold its subsidiary American Tobacco - including the Lucky Strike and Pall Mall brands - to BAT.

The deal marks a further step by the tobacco industry into F1 racing, highlighting the fact that restrictions elsewhere have made Grand Prix racing more and more attractive to tobacco companies. All the top teams except Sauber now have support from a major cigarette maker: Marlboro (Philip Morris) is with McLaren and Ferrari; Rothmans with Williams; Mild Seven (Japan Tobacco) with Benetton and Tyrrell; and Gauloises Blondes (SEITA) with Ligier.

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