Exploiting a loophole? McLaren announces partnership with British American Tobacco

British American Tobacco will once again be sponsoring a Formula One team, having agreed a “global partnership” with McLaren in a deal that the Woking team say will be focusing on BAT’s “reduced risk products”.

With echoes of Ferrari’s renewed parternship with Philip Morris and their ‘Mission Winnow’ initiative, McLaren’s deal with BAT is claimed to be centred on BAT’s “transforming agenda” and their aim to “deliver the world’s tobacco and nicotine consumers a better tomorrow”.

BAT’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kingsley Wheaton, said that the deal will “drive greater resonance” towards their electronic cigarette products, such as Vype and Vuse.

“We’re extremely proud and excited about this new partnership, further enabling us to accelerate the pace at which we innovate and transform ourselves.

“ It gives us a truly global platform with which to drive greater resonance of our potentially reduced risk products, including our Vype, Vuse and glo brands.

“Ultimately, innovation and technology will support us in creating a better tomorrow’ for our consumers worldwide.”

This will be the first time since 2006 that BAT will have a presence in Formula One; they joined the Formula One grid for the 1999 season with British American Racing but, like other tobacco companies, they found it harder to advertise their products, and left the sport altogether before the 2007 season.

The deal follows on from Ferrari’s new partnership with Mission Winnow, a brand formed by Philip Morris International, who had previously advertised tobacco products at Ferrari.

However, this agreement has drawn attention in Australia, with authorities there investigating the legality of the deal. More specifically, they will be deciding if the Mission Winnow logo is too close to the Marlboro logo, previously used on Ferrari’s Formula One cars.

Philip Morris International Director of Global Communication Tommaso di Giovanni has told Motorsport.com: “We are aware of the debate on Mission Winnow in Australia and we are working with the organisers of the local grand prix to understand the concerns of the authorities and give them an answer.

“Mission Winnow does not advertise or promote our company’s products or product brands. Rather, it is designed to talk about our commitment to improving ourselves in everything we do.

“Mission Winnow is a window to the new Philip Morris International and our partners, to our commitment and the stimuli that drive us to improve and evolve. And to contribute to the progress of society.”

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images