Marlboro's new logo. legal? effective?
August 9, 2005 2:07 PM   Subscribe

What's up with Marlboro's "alternate" logo?

There has been a crackdown on tobacco advertising. Marlboro now advertises using a white background with red rectangles in places where using their standard logo is illegal (at least in F1 and WRC racing). Is there any evidence this advertising works, and why is it legal, anyway?

Pics of logo:
Ferrari F1 car w/normal logo
Ferrari F1 car w/alternate logo
posted by mosch to Grab Bag (17 answers total)
Are you sure this is Marlboro's logo, and not just something Ferrari uses in it's place? I can't imagine Marlboro is paying Ferrari to display red rectangles.
posted by rocket88 at 2:19 PM on August 9, 2005

I didn't read the second one as an ad for Marlboro at all. You'd have to know what was "missing" from there to know it was a Marlboro ad.
posted by cosmicbandito at 2:20 PM on August 9, 2005

Response by poster: Positive. The same pattern is used by Peugeot in the WRC, in place of Marlboro advertisements, on both their car and the fire suits. (I was going to include photos of that, but couldn't find any where it was visible from the Rally Finland)
posted by mosch at 2:29 PM on August 9, 2005

I found this:

"Canada lost it's Grand Prix next year because of anti-tobacco legislation. No advertising from Tobacco sponsors would be allowed on the car. "

Perhaps it's just used in locations where legal issues would crop up.
posted by phearlez at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2005

Well, obviously, first they tried to make it cool by cropping off half the logo and adding all kinds of stupid bevels and gradients so you wouldn't be able to read it from a distance. That was still too legible to be "hip", though, so then they erased everything and replaced it with red rectangles. Then they hired mosch to spread the meme on a "cool" blog like AskMetafilter. It's Viral Marketing 101, people.
posted by designbot at 2:34 PM on August 9, 2005

I'm with phearlez, probably due to recent change in the law wrt tobacco advertising in the EU (corrected link)
posted by qwerty155 at 2:41 PM on August 9, 2005

sorry, not a corrected link, just my inability to copy and paste phearlez's link
posted by qwerty155 at 2:44 PM on August 9, 2005

Response by poster: It's definitely because of the tobacco legislation in the EU.

I just don't understand:
1) why a less well known logo is legal
2) why they'd bother
posted by mosch at 2:45 PM on August 9, 2005

How do you think that a row of squares qualifies as a logo? It's not used in any other collateral material of theirs, doesn't name them, isn't associated with them in any way, shape or form. The only thing that connects them is that those squares appear in the same location in other circumstances. It's NOT their logo.
posted by phearlez at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2005

1) Obviously, there's some loophole (either an explicit exception or some ambiguous language) in the law.
2) Undoubtedly, there's some money involved.
posted by jjg at 3:04 PM on August 9, 2005

The Jordan team (I think it was) used to be sponsored by Benson and Hedges cigarettes -- when they went to Canada, they just removed some letters and it said 'Be on edge'. Thought that was a nice cheap trick.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 3:08 PM on August 9, 2005

Apparently people who have seen the real logo mentally associate the triangle logo (old non-logo logo) and the squares (new non-logo logo) with the car. Also Phillip Morris is willing to sponsor Ferrari next year the same non-logo logo.
posted by riffola at 3:37 PM on August 9, 2005

Not about this per se, but still interesting: Ferrari drives through loophole to continue tobacco advertising

Includes this gem:
The Jordan-Midland team, sponsored by the British Gallaher Group, producers of Benson and Hedges, fielded a car bearing the "soundalike" logo "Be on Edge" in lettering similar to that found on B&H packets.
As to the question: I imagine from Marlboro's perpective, paying for a bunch of meaningless squares is more valuable than letting someone else take over a car they want to be the exclusive sponsor for
posted by smackfu at 4:16 PM on August 9, 2005

(Oops, lazywhinerkid, mentioned "Be on Edge" already.)
posted by smackfu at 4:17 PM on August 9, 2005

As to the question: I imagine from Marlboro's perpective, paying for a bunch of meaningless squares is more valuable than letting someone else take over a car they want to be the exclusive sponsor for
I dunno about that. Their competitors couldn't use the space either, for the same reason.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 6:41 PM on August 9, 2005

Best answer: The tobacco companies pay large sums to sponsor the teams, knowing that for several races their logos will be obscured in countries that regulate tobacco advertising. Even with the obstruction, the color schemes and other shapes are so distinctive and the television audience for an F1 race so huge (many millions) and geographically diverse that the tobacco companies put up with it. To appreciate the power of the cigs, know that before the more recent and stricter EU rules, an extra race, the "European Grand Prix" existed mainly to get another race on the schedule that allowed tobacco adverts.

Marlboro has traditionally gone with abstract shapes, but some others (like Jordan noted above) have a bit of fun. Other common techniques are using the drivers' names (as West does with the McLaren team) or using the team name in the same font treatment as the cigarette logo, as Mild Seven ( a Japanese brand) does with Renault. In the late 90's the Williams team (then sponsored by Rothmanns) reflected the questions about the ongoing debates within the EU by sporting an "Ro?" or even a plain "?" for a while.

An interesting twist is the US Grand Prix, where tobacco companies can only sponsor a team in one major race series. The Ferraris ran with the logo obscured, as Marlboro sponsors the Penske Indy car team, but Lucky Strike, B&H and Mild Seven (possibly West, I don't remember) where able to sport their logos.

(as someone who until recently collected F1 die-cast replicas, I know more about this than I should)
posted by jalexei at 7:19 PM on August 9, 2005

Response by poster: jalexei: I'm now wondering how on earth it is that it took me this long to notice what West/Mild Seven were doing.

I'd only noticed Marlboro and B&H, and B&H's bit seemed like it could skirt past because 'BE ON EDGE' it's a wholly unreasonable thing to write on a racecar.
posted by mosch at 11:08 PM on August 10, 2005

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