Philip Morris' Ferrari F1 Deal Under Scrutiny In Australia
American tobacco company Philip Morris insists its "Mission Winnow" sponsorship program with Ferrari Formula 1 complies with advertising laws "despite Australia's concerns over the matter," according to Phillip van Osten of F1i.com. The "Mission Winnow" name and logo appeared on the Scuderia's cars at last year's Japanese Grand Prix. Philip Morris is using the concept to usher in a new era for the tobacco company, which hopes to develop and market "smoke-free alternatives" to cigarettes. However, just over a month before F1 gathers in Melbourne for the season's opening event, Australia’s Department of Health and Victoria’s Department of Health & Human Services launched an investigation into PM's practices, concerned they "contravene the country's ban on tobacco advertising" (F1i.com, 2/9). MOTORSPORT's Testi & Noble reported the Australian Communications & Media Authority also launched a separate investigation, after local TV stations broadcast the 2018 Japanese GP with Mission Minnow on Ferrari's cars. Philip Morris Int'l Dir of Global Communication Tommaso di Giovanni said that he is "confident his company fully complies with tobacco advertising laws," and said that it is "discussing the matter" with Australian GP execs. Di Giovanni said, "The initiative and the symbols and logos used on the livery of the Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow and the website comply with the laws that apply to our activities in Australia and the State of Victoria." Melbourne surgeon and anti-smoking campaigner John Cunningham, who complained about the new branding to authorities, said that he was "clear about what was behind the situation." Cunningham said, "This website actually makes it much clearer what they are trying to achieve, and what sort of business they are in. It has nothing to do with F1 cars, that's for sure" (MOTORSPORT, 2/9). In Melbourne, Bianca Hall reported the new branding featuring a white chevron on a red background is "said by some to be reminiscent of the Marlboro logo." Philip Morris' website suggests Mission Winnow is "predominantly a brand revamp" for the tobacco company, featuring "gushing" prose about innovation, excellence and "innovative solutions to long-standing problems." It does not specifically mention tobacco products, but it does promote Philip Morris' efforts to transform "not only our company but an entire industry for the 1.1 billion people who smoke and those around them" (THE AGE, 2/8).