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Gold Leaf to make a comeback?

THE current campaigns to restrict tobacco advertising around the world seem to be having a contradictory effect in FormulaƊ1 with tobacco companies rushing to become involved in Grand Prix racing before the restrictions become too tight to make it worthwhile.

Next year F1 will have at least six teams with major tobacco sponsorship deals: Marlboro (Ferrari), Rothmans (Williams), Mild Seven (Benetton), West (McLaren), Benson & Hedges (Jordan) and Gauloises (Ligier). In addition Players has just signed an agreement to be title sponsor of the Canadian GP.

There were rumors in Italy that British American Tobacco - the world's second largest tobacco company - is planning to increase its involvement in F1. BAT is currently involved with the Jordan-Benson & Hedges because the B&H brand is owned by different cigarette companies in different parts of the world. The main support for the Jordan-B&H deal comes from the owner of B&H in Europe - Gallaher Ltd., a subsidiary of the American Brands corporation. BAT is involved because it sells B&H outside Europe.

BAT is rumored to have decided - once again - that F1 is a good way to advertise its goods. The company has a long and illustrious history in F1, with Gold Leaf, JPS and Barclay. Gold Leaf was the very first F1 sponsor in 1968 with Lotus.

We hear that Gold Leaf might be the brand which BAT is considering bringing back into Grand Prix racing and we hear whispers that a deal may be in the pipeline with TWR.