Ever since 2000, Tobacco advertising in Formula One started to decrease due to the blanket ban in Europe and other parts of the world. Williams were the first team to move away from receiving funds from cigarette companies and were quickly followed by others, notably McLaren. This marked a significant change in the sport, as tobacco has been synonymously linked with Formula One for many decades. However, while smoking is bad for you and therefore the advertising of its products banned, little has been said or done regarding alcohol sponsorship.
Perhaps the advertising of alcohol in Formula One isn’t quite so prominent as tobacco was, but teams still carry logos for popular brands on the cars, overalls, websites etc… with McLaren having replaced West with Johnnie Walker, Force India advertising owner Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher company and Ferrari having enjoyed a long term relationship with Bacardi. Alcohol doesn’t end with the teams though, with Johnnie Walker placing giant billboards around the circuits and up until recently, Fosters sponsoring the British and Australian Grands Prix.
While the governments around the world are generally aware that alcohol can be very damaging to people, similarly to smoking perhaps, the advertising laws regarding these companies isn’t so strict. It should also be noted that at least two alcohol companies have used Formula One as a vehicle to promote considerate and moderate drinking of their products, with Johnnie Walker hiring former world champion Mika Hakkinen to be their Global Responsible Drinking Ambassador for their Join The Pact campaign and Michael Schumacher involving himself in Bacardi’s Champions Drink Responsibly campaign.
However, alcohol is still consumed at races, the cars carry logos of popular brands and with the sport being centred on driving, isn’t it time alcohol received a similar ban as tobacco did? Or should the sport, in this time of economic downturn, be welcoming the involvement of these companies in sponsoring teams and races?[poll=”52″]
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