PMI Not Getting Tyred

Posted 10th June 2019 by Dave Cross
Ferrari has removed Philip Morris International (PMI) Mission Winnow branding for Formula 1 races in France and Canada. The move follows similar action by the factory Ducati MotoGP team for a French race. A senior PMI executive has slammed those who claim the Mission Winnow logo has been designed to be reminiscent of Marlboro packets.

What is Mission Winnow?

Those who don’t follow Autosport will probably not have heard of Mission Winnow – and even those who do might not appreciate what it is. The official site doesn’t shed much light: “Mission Winnow has a simple goal: drive change by constantly searching for better ways of doing things. From world-leading engineers and scientists to cutting-edge creatives, the people at PMI, and our partners at Scuderia Ferrari and Ducati, have the know-how to challenge the status quo, drive revolutionary change and to be champions.”

It's a carefully constructed statement to avoid breaking sponsorship rules and legislation around the world. As PMI shift from cigarettes to heat-not-burn products, it is attempting to put over a different image.

ASH UK previously commented: “Until mid-2008, Ferrari cars had Marlboro logos in F1 races outside Europe, with footage of these races broadcast back into the EU. White bar codes closely resembling those on Marlboro packs appeared until 2010. Marlboro’s owner Philip Morris International still sponsors Ferrari for about $100m a year, in return gaining access to Ferrari for promotions and hospitality aimed at the tobacco trade and garage forecourt shops. In some countries which allowed advertising imaging on cigarette packs, Marlboro packs were printed with pictures of Ferrari F1 cars.”

“They’re trying a new tactic, using Formula 1 advertising to rebrand themselves as newly minted, hi tech, socially responsible companies, no longer the deceitful, untrustworthy and manipulative pariahs of yesteryear.”

Royal Flush Vape

Ferrari had already removed Mission Winnow branding for the Formula 1 race in Australia due to complaints about links with tobacco, something anti-vape campaigner Simon Chapman crowed about.

The problem according to Marita Hefler, in a British Medical Journal blog, is that “PMI is simply looking to continue subverting existing tobacco advertising laws to keep its Marlboro brand at the forefront of fans’ minds, particularly with the ex-CEO of PMI, Louis Camilleri, becoming the Ferrari CEO in July 2018.”

She contends that PMI is subliminally advertising, a point of view PMI strongly denies: “The design is not intended in any way to reflect our brands or products…we will not use our partners to advertise our products.”

PMI chief operating officer Jacek Olczak went further in Monaco this weekend: “We put Mission Winnow on the car and somebody told us it looks like Marlboro. I said, ‘Look, I think you should go to a doctor, OK?’”

The Electronic Cigarette Company

It is difficult to see how the branding reflects IQOS packaging. Do you see this as an issue? Should Ferrari carry Mission Winnow logos?


  • Mission Winnow – [link]
  • “Chevrons, barcodes and arrows: PMI’s continued subliminal promotion of combustible products” by Marita Hefler – [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, salad destroyer and live culture convert.