Before 2006, cigarette brands could be seen on racing cars, and the advertising was estimated to be in the region of US$350 million each year – a big chunk going to Formula 1 and WRC teams. Then the FIA decided that there would be no more tobacco-related advertising permitted, which naturally had implications on teams which had to look for new partners to fund their activities.

However, in spite of not being able to paste brand stickers or artwork on racing cars, Philip Morris International Inc (PMI) – which owns the Marlboro brand – maintained its support for the Ferrari F1 team. Philip Morris remains a partner of the Ferrari team and that relationship has now been 45 years long. During that time, the Marlboro brand name which happens to have a red colour theme that is the same as Ferrari’s has become closely ‘attached’ so even though the cigarette brand cannot be shown on the cars, marketing people believe that there is still the association in people’s minds.

After 2006, cigarette brand names like Marlboro and John Player Special disappeared from motorsports as the FIA decided to ban tobacco-related advertising on the racing cars as well as the drivers’ clothes.

The partnership between Philip Morris and Ferrari was renewed contractually last year but no time-frame was mentioned. Today, the two companies unveiled ‘Mission Winnow’, a new global initiative to create engagement around the role of science, technology and innovation as a powerful force for good in any industry. The global initiative takes to the tracks this week at the 2018 Japanese F1 Grand Prix.

“Through Mission Winnow, we want to let the world know how we have changed, to share our pride in the transformation that the people of PMI have achieved, as well as our dedication to rigorous science and innovation that can lead to a better future,” said Andre Calantzopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of PMI.

“We will use this global platform as a window into the new PMI and to challenge preconceptions, as we know there are many who may have doubts about us and our motivations. Our partnership with Scuderia Ferrari gives us the opportunity to build on many encouraging individual conversations with critics and supporters alike and reach out to a broad audience to engage at scale,” he explained.

The word “winnow” (pronounced: ‘win’–’oh’) was selected because it perfectly describes the meticulous and disciplined route that PMI is following to achieve its ambitious vision of a smoke-free future. The word—and PMI’s vision—is said to be about focus, transparency, care and single-minded determination.

‘Winnow’ originally referred to the removal of chaff from grain but it then came to be used more broadly to describe the ‘separating out of the unnecessary, the extraction of the good and distinguishing what is true from what is inaccurate or misleading. For PMI, this is critically important in a world of information overload.

The company also believes it is critically important to adhere to an uncompromising commitment of continuous improvement through the dedicated and diligent pursuit of scientific and engineering excellence with an intense focus on details. This commitment and focus are creating a paradigm shift in the tobacco industry toward a better future.

The long association of Marlboro with the Ferrari racing cars means that even though the cigarette brand is not on the cars, many people still think of it.

Mr. Calantzopoulos added: “Mission Winnow encapsulates our commitment to strive for better in everything we do. To winnow, or to discard old approaches, is what we at PMI are doing—we take learnings from past mistakes to shape our future.”

Driving to the future, PMI has chosen a path that is, in all aspects, very complex and faces many challenges. Like Scuderia Ferrari, the company has set a course forward, and there is no turning back: PMI must constantly and rapidly progress, examining and analyzing the way ahead by learning every day and adjusting to improve at the next corner.

Mission Winnow provides an insider’s view of two companies that operate in very different fields but have a great deal in common. For both companies, success hinges on the passion of their people for the highest standards of performance in pursuit of overarching ambitions. Mission Winnow does not and will never advertise or promote any tobacco products: Mission Winnow is not about what, it is about how and why.

[Chips Yap]

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