British Formula One racing team McLaren has confirmed it will compete at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix without British American Tobacco (BAT) branding.
The announcement sees them become the second pit crew to scrap a campaign led by a tobacco sponsor for the 2019 season curtain-raiser in Melbourne following Ferrari’s decision regarding Philip Morris’ Mission Winnow branding.
BAT launched its ‘A Better Tomorrow’ promotion as part of a global partnership with McLaren announced last month. However, amid pressure from Australian health authorities, BAT has decided to pass on its branding rights for the race to the US convenience store, Seven Eleven.
BAT’s campaign is designed to focus on the company’s commitment to ‘providing less risky tobacco and nicotine choices’. However, health officials apparently perturbed by the campaigns argue that they contradict Formula One’s rule prohibiting the promotion of tobacco-based products.
In an email to the Reuters news agency, a McLaren spokesperson said that BAT had decided ‘in advance not to brand the car or team with A Better Tomorrow but instead pass their branding rights onto Seven Eleven for this race’.
Ferrari has also dropped Mission Winnow from its official team name in an updated entry list published by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and will simply go by Scuderia Ferrari.
Despite removing its branding this weekend, Philip Morris, whose Mission Winnow campaign first appeared during last season’s Japanese Grand Prix, has said that it will remain the team’s title sponsor.
When approached by SportsPro, Australia’s Department of Health said that it is not able to comment on matters that may be under investigation by the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992.
The department added: “The act prohibits tobacco advertisements comprising of any writing, still or moving picture, sign, symbol or other visual image, or any audible message that gives publicity to, or otherwise promotes or is intended to promote smoking or the purchase or use of a tobacco product. This includes tobacco-related trademarks.”