Tuesday, 11 May 2010

How do brands get around bans on alcohol and tobacco advertising?

With a lot of coverage online and in the press about Ferrari removing the blatantly Marlboro inspired barcodes from their F1 car, I thought it would be nice to have a look at how brands have avoided alcohol and tobacco bans over the years.

Many of these examples are from motorsports, where tobacco sponsorship used to still does fund some of the teams.

Ferrari even went as far as changing the signs in their team garage at the latest grand prix - showing how intrinsically connected the teams are to the tobacco giants:

However this is not a new barcode logo - as you can see it has been in use with Ferrari ever since the tobacco advertising ban was introduced - which makes it even more odd that it has suddenly become a major issue.

It has been used to advertise Marlboro on other racing cars:

And also on motorbikes:

It's not only Marlboro who have been up to the same tricks, check out these Lucky Strike cars from Formula 1:

Even using the Lucky Strike typographic style for 'Look Left':

Gauloises have done it with motorbikes:

West cigarettes have done it with motorsports on both sides of the pond, in the USA:

And in Formula 1:

It's not only cigarette companies, here's Beck's beer making a less than subtle attempt:

And the Welsh rugby team sponsor, the brewery SA Brains, had to change their shirts when playing in France. They were fortunate to have a slightly more cunning play on words than Beck's - with Brains becoming Brawn:

Mild Seven, long-time sponsors of Renault F1 used a variety of equally recognisable liveries:

With alcohol advertising banned in India, Kingfisher has also had to work around the problem - by funding not only a Formula 1 team:

But also an airline:
However my favourite example is from Benson & Hedges, which used a selection of B&H inspired slogans to adorn the Jordan F1 cars:

Be On Edge:
Bitten Hisses:

Buzzin Hornets:

Bitten Heroes:
So it seems that even the cleverest ads may find themselves banned, even if the brand is not clearly identifiable - as in the Ferrari case. It relights an interesting debate about what constitutes a trademark, brand, logo - particularly where there is no formal/legal ownership of the barcode.

Personally I think you would have to ban any connection with tobacco companies in order to avoid them altering a team's livery to promote their brand. But then perhaps they would all follow Kingfisher and just buy the team, who knows...

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