Friday 30 April 2010

Fevered imaginations

On the same day that Australia takes the 'next logical step' of banning logos on cigarette packs, the colour red became the latest victim of anti-smoking hysteria.

Leading doctors are demanding an immediate government inquiry into “subliminal” tobacco advertising on Ferrari’s Formula One cars, and the company’s $1 billion relationship with the maker of Marlboro cigarettes.

The red, white and black bar code emblazoned on Ferrari’s racing cars and its drivers’ overalls is designed to remind viewers of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes, it is claimed.

Er, yes. It's uncanny isn't it?

Dr John Britton—a man who is happy to spout any old rubbish about secondhand smoke without checking the facts—is "stunned" by this audacious combination of white, black and red.

John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, said: “The bar code looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes. I was stunned when I saw it. This is pushing at the limits."

The phrase "swivel-eyed obsessive" springs immediately to mind. Yes, these are the colours of Marlboro—albeit a completely different shade of red. They also happen to be the colours of this blog. They are, for that matter, the colours of my football team, and Middlesbrough even sounds a bit like Marlboro. Is there no end to this conspiracy?

Gerard Hastings, director of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research, said: “I think this is advertising. Why a bar code? What is their explanation?”

Why not a bar code? The Marlboro logo isn't a bar code. What is the connection? As the Ferrari spokesman has pointed out, if anyone has a claim to the colour red, it is the car maker.

"The premise that simply looking at a red Ferrari can be a more effective means of publicity than a cigarette advertisement seems incredible: how should one assess the choice made by other Formula 1 teams to race a car with a predominantly red livery or to link the image of a driver to a sports car of the same colour? Maybe these companies also want to advertise smoking!

"It should be pointed out that red has been the recognised colour for Italian racing cars since the very beginning of motor sport, at the start of the twentieth century: if there is an immediate association to be made, it is with our company rather than with our partner."

Once again, the increasingly nutty complaints of these groups says far more about their fevered imaginations than it does about the issue. They only serve to confirm what their critics have long said—that they are fanatics in the true sense of the word. Meanwhile, Philip Morris must be delighted to be receiving worldwide media coverage and countless mentions of their leading brand. All courtesy of the anti-smokers. Nice work, guys.


Man with Many Chins said...

I know what the problem is.

Dr John Britton clearly needs to get laid, the obsessive compulsive prick.

It actually goes beyond belief now.

Dick Puddlecote said...

"Meanwhile, Philip Morris must be delighted to be receiving worldwide media coverage and countless mentions of their leading brand."

That was exactly my first reaction. I wouldn't have noticed it, nor would anyone else I know, but now everyone will be seeing the bar code and thinking of Marlboro.

Tobacco controllers are not only mentally imbalanced, but also quite jaw-droppingly stupid.

Anonymous said...

It is being made obvious by the results of this scathing scientific research study and expert investigation that indoor and outdoor smoking bans, tobacco display and retail bans do not go far enough in solving the problem of people thinking.

Accordingly, the colours red, white and black should be banned from production for all paints and inks and disabled electronically on all tellie and computer screens so this subliminal threat to our health and safety can be eliminated.

In addition, air-brushing of cigs out of old movies and photographs should be further enhanced by the required removal of these three colours from the celluoid and print backgrounds so we are never tempted by subliminal tobacco messaging again.

If Labour would bring this to the forefront of their election manifesto, they are quite apt to soar in the polls and win a heavy majority over the other parties.

Why hasn't the Guardian and BBC given this more coverage is the only question remaining.

Anonymous said...

No smoking signs use the same colour scheme. So now I know why I get an overwhelming urge to smoke a cigarette whenever I see one.
Fiendishly clever, those people at Philip Morris!


Anonymous said...

Are Ferrari F1 cars electric,
if not, Mr Health Freak,
kiss my manifold,you tormented dipstick

Fuming Fangio

Anonymous said...

Ah, the plot thickens.

I just read the article and watched the inset video. In the video, a couple of people say that barcode reminds them of Marlboro cigarettes. Isn't that odd?

Not really.

The article mentions that Ferrari and Marlboro have a billion dollar financial relationship.

Here's the new Ferrari Formula One. See the barcode at the back.

Here's the old Ferrari Formula One Car. Look at the same spot.

The Times Online article makes no mention of that. Neither does the video. It seems plausible to me that they aren't seeing a Marlboro logo in the barcode because there's a resemblance, but because they've seen earlier incarnations of the car and expect the Marlboro logo to be where it was before.

Is that considered subliminal advertising?

Without getting up from my chair, I looked around for something that more resembled that barcode. I found it on the price sticker of a used book from Borders sitting next to me. Click below to get a rough idea.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone reads comments on old topics, but I saw something this morning and it brought this blog post to mind.

I was driving to work and I noticed that the car in front of me had a sticker of a pack of Marlboros on it's rear windshield.

When I got closer, I realized what it was really was: the symbol for Albany's College of Pharmacy. (I guess there's some irony there, if you think about it.)

See the top left corner. If you don't see the resemblance, and can be bothered, look at it from across the room.