‘Subliminal’ Marlboro racing logo flames out

You're a cigarette brand, and you agreed to spend $1 billion sponsoring Formula One racing. But then Europe passes a pesky law that forbids advertising tobacco (and only tobacco) at cross-border cultural and sporting events? What do you do? Well, if you're Marlboro, you release the Scuderia Marlboro F1 single-seater Ferrari racecar, and replace your logo on it with a barcode. A barcode that looks a lot like your logo. Particularly when it whizzes by at 200 mph. Ingenious skirting of the law? Yes. Well, the European Public Health Commissioner was not amused, and told Marlboro that its barcode constituted subliminal advertising. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo called the allegations "completely pointless," and "verging on the ridiculous," but still decided to remove the barcode design, to "put an end to this ridiculous story and concentrate on more important things than such groundless allegations." Now the cars just have a gaping space surrounded by a white box where the logo should be. Which may be even more visually arresting.

—Posted by Rebecca Cullers

Publish date: May 17, 2010 https://dev.adweek.com/creativity/subliminal-marlboro-racing-logo-flames-out-12670/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT