We all know smoking is bad for you. No-one is debating this anymore, and hasn’t for a long time. What is debatable is the banning of tobacco advertising, given that such products remain perfectly legal for adults in virtually every country of the world. That’s highly unlikely to change any time soon, but we are not here to debate that today. What is beyond doubt is that tobacco companies provided us with some of the most stunning Formula One liveries ever seen.
From the late 1960s until 2007, tobacco advertising was seen on countless numbers of cars, with almost every single team profiting from cigarette company sponsorship at some stage. Numerous brands graced the bodywork of Formula One cars over this forty year period, with the most famous being the JPS colours as used by Lotus for 15 years and the Marlboro livery as used by McLaren for over 20 years. Here we look at some of the best tobacco advertising liveries seen on F1 cars from across the years.
Tobacco advertising was one of the very first sponsorship brandings ever seen in Formula One. In 1968, Team Lotus rolled out its cars in the red, white and gold colours of Gold Leaf cigarettes, and the rest was history. Within months, Formula One cars had largely done away with the old-fashioned concept of national racing colours, and the cars became fast-moving billboards for tobacco advertising and other branding. Fuel and oil companies also moved in quickly, as did tyre companies and a few others. Motorsport thus became a popular way for companies to grow their brand awareness by decking out a racing car in their colours.
Tobacco Advertising in F1: the best liveries from 1968 to 2007
Gold Leaf – Lotus
JPS – Lotus
Camel – Lotus, Benetton, Williams, Tyrrell
Marlboro – McLaren, Ferrari, BRM, Alfa Romeo
West – McLaren, Zakspeed
Benson & Hedges – Jordan
Rothmans – Williams
Winfield – Williams
Lucky Strike – Lotus, BAR, Honda
Gitanes – Ligier
Gauloises – Ligier
Mild Seven – Benetton, Renault, Tyrrell
Barclay – Arrows, Williams
Interesting fact: Although tobacco companies have been banned from advertising their brands for several years, Philip Morris (owners of the Marlboro brand) remains the major sponsor of Scuderia Ferrari. However, the sponsorship no longer contains any kind of Marlboro branding and is more aimed at B2B and network development. Marlboro is believed to pay for all of the advertising space on the entire bodywork of Ferrari’s cars, which they then sublet to other sponsors.