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.