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Tobacco advertising in Formula One

No-one disputes that smoking is bad for you. What is beyond dispute is that tobacco advertising gave us some of the best F1 liveries ever.

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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.

Tobacco Advertising in Formula One
Winfield Williams FW20, Monaco 1998
Rothmans Williams FW19, 1997
Rothmans Williams FW16, Brazil 1994
Camel Williams FW15B, 1992
West McLaren Mercedes MP4/13, 1998
Marlboro McLaren Honda MP4/7, 1992
Marlboro McLaren-TAG MP4/2, 1984
Gold Leaf Lotus 49, Monaco (Tobacco advertising in Formula One)
Benson & Hedges Jordan 199, 1999 (Tobacco advertising in Formula One)
JPS Lotus 72, 1972, Ronnie Petersen
JPS Lotus 79, 1979
JPS Lotus 98T, 1986 (Tobacco advertising in Formula One)
Camel Lotus 99T, Monaco 1987
Gitanes Ligier JS25 (Tobacco advertising in Formula One)
Marlboro McLaren M23, 1976 (Tobacco advertising in Formula One)
Marlboro Ferrari F2007, Monaco 2007
Marlboro Ferrari 248 F1, 2006, Michael Schumacher (Tobacco advertising in Formula One)
Mild Seven Benetton B195 (Tobacco advertising in Formula One)
Lucky Strike BAR displays prominent tobacco advertising

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.

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Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.