• Formula Money

Why Philip Morris still sponsors Ferrari

Christian Sylt
April 30, 2010 « Stewart and Hill impressed by Button at McLaren | »

After Ferrari came under fire over subliminal Marlboro cigarette advertising on its car this week, Formula Money's Christian Sylt looks at why parent company Philip Morris continues to sponsor the team.

The key reason why Philip Morris and Marlboro still sponsor Ferrari is the subliminal recognition with consumers that a long-term partnership creates. In 2005 a study by British American Tobacco showed that the Camel cigarette brand, which stopped its F1 sponsorship in 1993, still had double the awareness level of its rival Mild Seven - title sponsor of the world championship-winning Renault team that year. The same applied to other brands such as Gauloises, which left F1 in 2000, but still had around 12.5% awareness by 2005 compared to Mild Seven's 10%.

By maintaining the impression of a presence on the Ferrari cars, Marlboro increases the length of its association with the team. In turn, this increases the length of time people will believe it is an F1 sponsor once it has completely pulled out of the sport.

In a nutshell, the purpose of a long-term partnership is to embed in the consumer's mind the connection between the brand and the team, and, even more so, to get an emotional connection between the two of those. For example, while Marlboro is still a Ferrari partner it can use the image of the cars on cigarette packets even though its own logo is not used on the cars.

If this connection is made effectively, not only are the benefits optimised while the brand is sponsoring the team but there should also be a residual benefit after it has pulled out, particularly in terms of awareness as time goes on. Marlboro's current agreement allows it to continue forging this connection in the minds of consumers, despite tobacco brands being barred from the sport. Hence the comments by the European Public Health Commissioner.