Ferrari have reacted to media reports claiming their barcode livery is designed to remind people of Marlboro cigarette packaging:
Neither of these arguments have any scientific basis, as they rely on some alleged studies which have never been published in academic journals. But more importantly, they do not correspond to the truth. The so called barcode is an integral part of the livery of the car and of all images coordinated by the Scuderia, as can be seen from the fact it is modified every year and, occasionally even during the season. Furthermore, if it was a case of advertising branding, Philip Morris would have to own a legal copyright on it.
The partnership between Ferrari and Philip Morris is now only exploited in certain initiatives, such as factory visits, meetings with the drivers, merchandising products, all carried out fully within the laws of the various countries where these activities take place. There has been no logo or branding on the race cars since 2008, even in countries where local laws would still have permitted it.
Ferrari’s protestations that what they are doing is legally correct will do little to dissuade anyone that the barcode design exists for any reason other than to call to attention their lucrative association with long-standing F1 sponsor Marlboro.
It’s not as if the barcode appears on any of the cars they sell or on Ferraris racing in championships outside F1. The team’s official name on the FIA entry list is Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.
Similar designs have been used in F1 for the best part of three decades, since restrictions on tobacco advertising began to affect sports. “Non-tobacco liveries” featuring a variety of unsubtle similarities to the original logos were once a common sight.
But you have to ask why the legislators have chosen to trouble themselves with it now, years after F1 went tobacco-free (Ferrari notwithstanding, of course). It looks a bit like a storm in a teacup to me – at this stage I’d be very surprised if this ends with Ferrari being forced to kick their cigarette habit.