Philip Morris out: Ferrari on the market for a new sponsor

Farewell to Mission Winnow. Il Cavallino evaluates a different relationship with the historic partner who today brings in 125 million euros a year

To the less attentive it may even seem that everything is as usual. Because the Mission Winnow brand has long been an intermittent presence on the Ferrari livery. Throughout 2020 it had disappeared, this year it was seen in some GPs, in others not, in none of those in the countries of the European Union, to say, in compliance with the laws on advertising for cigarette brands. Although Mission Winnow is a very indirect message, and in its way, as we shall see, also very refined. Equally, the fact that for next year it seems destined to disappear from the Ferrari bodies is one of those news that makes you think of an era that is closing. Simply because Philip Morris and Ferrari have been racing together in one way or another for 48 years. And the fact that from next year it may not happen again is a sign of the changing times. Maybe someone will not notice it, certainly the coffers of Maranello will notice, given that the agreement up to this year has yielded a quantifiable figure of around 125 million euros per season.

Dialogues in progress

However, Ferrari continues to talk to Philip Morris, to see how to continue the collaboration, perhaps in other forms. If not, other potential high-level partners will be evaluated for the role of main sponsor, but without haste: the existing portfolio, net of Philip Morris’s contribution, is enough and advances not to give rise to major concerns in Maranello. Especially in consideration of the budget cap which limits the team budget to 145 million. Although it is true that pilots’ salaries remain off the roof and historically it has always been Philip Morris who paid them. Which speaks volumes about the symbiosis achieved between the two brands in almost half a century. A tried and tested partnership that not surprisingly has brought Philip Morris men in key roles at Ferrari, from former team principal Maurizio Arrivabene to the recent CEO Louis Carey Camilleri. All considerations for which it is inevitable to imagine that somehow the collaboration will go on. Mattia Binotto himself, last Sunday, after the Brazilian GP, ​​said: “The agreement will expire at the end of the year, but we are talking with Philip Morris. Relations are good and we will see how it will end in the coming months”. Therefore, more secluded modalities of the tobacconist brand can be hypothesized, perhaps with collateral activities, or initiatives related to pilots in countries where the legislation on cigarette advertising is less restrictive.

Back to the past

In practice, a kind of return to the past, at the dawn of the liaison, when, in 1973, the Marlboro brand began to appear on the Ferrari drivers’ suits, the older ones will remember it on those of Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda. On the suits, but not on the car. It seems to be the express wish of Enzo Ferrari. In fact, in those same years there was already the McLaren that looked like a package of Marlboros with wheels. Other times, and other laws. Not surprisingly, when in 1997 the McLaren became silver with the word West, the red changed its name to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. And Philip Morris did the reverse, albeit only in the UK: packs of cigarettes initially just all red, and then with a nice racing car stamped on them. It was a sporty lucky pairing with Michael Schumacher’s 5 titles. Then more and more nuanced and hidden, due to the more restrictive laws. Moving from the 2007 barcode of Kimi Raikkonen’s title to Mission Winnow. Articulated message: detached Win Now, means ‘win now’, while attacked, ‘Winnow’, is an archaic English verb that we could translate as ‘Mondare’, or even better with ‘spulare’, the operation of removing the chaff , impurities, from the grain before grinding. Symbolically: take away the negative aspects and keep only the good ones. Ferrari itself on its website, on the page where it describes the partnership, takes care to write that Philip Morris “is now committed to replacing cigarettes with smoke-free products …”. It is understood that sponsorship, as well as becoming increasingly vague, was becoming an unwarranted investment. Times change and everything changes, including Formula 1.

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Philip Morris out: Ferrari on the market for a new sponsor

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