This is the story of how one of last, huge corporate-backed non-factory Formula One teams - British American Racing - entered the World Championship.
[image source - DeviantArt]
This post relies exclusively on documents found in the vault of UCSF’s Industry Documents Library.
Long before smartphones and even before social media or widespread Internet there was television. Television used to be the most effective advertising mass media platform - given there was a show popular enough to fit advertisements in it for millions of people around the world to see.
Tobacco companies were one of the first ones deprived from the opportunities electronic visual media had to offer, forcing them to seek advertising space elsewhere. Formula One has been a television entertainment program to which a significant amount of global population tuned into every other week for the fatter part of the year. The alliance between “Marlboro Man” and “Speed Racer” in the late 60s proved to be a marriage made in heaven since the demography between the consumers of tobacco products and motor sports followers overlapped greatly due to a shared projected image. F1 was a particularly important advertising space for tobacco companies due to its global reach and the ability of circumventing media restrictions, arguing that any tobacco logo on a car was meant to be presented for the people in the grandstands, any occurrence of them appearing on worldwide television was a matter of coincidence.
[image source - Wikipedia]
The 90s brought changes to the world of sport. It isn’t that just new markets were opening up, but another one was closing down. Formula One’s expansion to Eastern markets was in consequence to countries in the West shutting the door on overt tobacco advertisements. Europe was slipping away for Marlboro Man, but there was still a huge market available in the far East that went virtually unrestricted.
British American Tobacco saw one last window opening up in Formula One in the middle of the decade when Philip Morris jumped ship to sponsor Scuderia Ferrari instead of their long-time partner, McLaren Racing. Marlboro was a well-embedded brand in Western culture, dominating the better part of motorsports. British American Tobacco - on the other hand - was keeping options open in the South-East Asian region and wherever Philip Morris left a spot blank.