Imagine yourself as a major sponsor of the most well know Formula 1 racing team. Your identity and brand is intertwined with the race team and to some extent Formula 1 itself. You are in negotiations to financially sponsor this race team for the next five years and you are willing to pay about $2 billion a year to do so.
Unfortunately for you, the many countries where the team race has passed a ban on cigarette advertising and your company manufactures and globally markets cigarettes. Obviously, Formula One qualifies as a cross-border cultural and sporting event, but you go forward with your sponsorship anyway. And you state that the team’s Ferraris would simply not carry your brand’s logo where there was this ban in place.
This is exactly what has been happening with Marlboro. They’ve spent a ton of money to sponsor Ferrari’s Formula 1 team without being able to brand the cars under this sponsorship. Basically, the Ferrari’s appear to have no major sponsorship when raced in these countries.
The paint job features a predominately red car with a number of associate sponsor logos; Shell Gasoline, Ferrari itself, Bridgestone and a few others.
The most striking aspect of this design and the subject of this article is a red, black and white barcode-like design on the canopy of the vehicle, as well as on the uniforms of drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipa Massa. Up close it just looks like a cool aesthetic touch but from a distance and possibly even more clearly when moving 200 mph it appears to resemble the packaging of the cigarette manufacturer.
First, this is the most insanely creative design solution that I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s nothing short of genius. Second, it further demonstrates how desperate tobacco companies are to market their product in an increasingly legislated environment. This ingenius design only underscores what we think about these companies and although I love the design approach and problem solving, it’s easy to see the intent here was to find a loophole in the law. Best of all, the design seems to now constitute a brand’s logo.