This season, Ferrari’s F1 cars will feature the phrase “Mission Winnow,” standing for Philip Morris’ apparent but not nominal initiative to get people to switch from cigarettes to vaping. There’s nothing really noble about that, though, and the backhandedness of it all has already got them in trouble.
Trouble in Australia, that is, where cigarette advertising is strictly regulated, and “Mission Winnow” apparently doesn’t pass the test.
The original Ferrari livery for 2019 carried ‘Mission Winnow’ branding from Phillip Morris — which first appeared in Japan last year — as the tobacco giant looks to promote smoke-free “heat not burn” products. However, the team needed to make a change due to concerns it violated tobacco advertising restrictions in Australia.
“There were problems with the Department of Health and Philip Morris did not have time to find a solution,” Ferrari chairman Louis C. Camilleri told Reuters last week. “Winnow is not a brand, however. It has nothing to do with tobacco but is about the transition from cigarettes to electronic (products).”
Let’s read that final sentence again.
“Winnow is not a brand, however. It has nothing to do with tobacco but is about the transition from cigarettes to electronic (products).”
Winnow has nothing to do with tobacco, except it literally has everything to do with tobacco.
All of this is ridiculous, but will be slightly less ridiculous in Australia, since the livery in Australia will not include the words “Mission Winnow” anywhere, but will include everything else. Why go through this charade at all? Because Philip Morris and Ferrari have had a sponsorship arrangement for decades, and because, presumably, that’s worked out pretty well for both parties.
“Mission Winnow” is what you get when you combine the sliminess of tobacco companies and the language of cheap marketing. You’ll see it in every other race this year but I’m happy Australia had the good sense to stop it.