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Netflix’s F1 Show ‘Drive to Survive’ Criticized For Tobacco Ads

Netflix’s hit Formula 1 show is providing the tobacco giants with a quick and effective marketing vehicle to bypass previous bans on advertising their products, industry watchers say. know on Wednesday.

Photo of a Formula 1 race in progress in Bahrain.  (AFP)
Photo of a Formula 1 race in progress in Bahrain. (AFP)

The behind-the-scenes Formula 1 streaming series “Drive to Survive” has been hugely popular on Netflix, having just released its fifth season. But campaigners warn that in addition to boosting motor sport’s popularity, the program also gives families around the world the brands of tobacco companies that sponsor F1 teams. even in countries where tobacco advertising is prohibited.

In a new report, F1 industry watchdog Pre-Formula and tobacco industry watchdog STOP charged that in just the fourth season of “Drive to Survive,” “a total of 1.1 billion minutes of footage streamed around the world containing tobacco-related content.” And half of the episodes that season featured a first-minute cigarette-related trademark, reportedly titled: “Driving Addiction: F1, Netflix and Tobacco Company Ads.”

The report says the product branding of Ferrari sponsor Philip Morris International (PMI) and McLaren sponsor British American Tobacco (BAT) has “prominently featured in the series, with an extended storyline following the hands of the hands.” team race”. “Research shows that PMI and BAT are reaching new audiences through programming, including those who don’t watch F1 races,” it added.

young audience

Wednesday’s report found that “Drive to Survive” viewers were younger than the typical F1 audience and also found it has contributed to a significant increase in viewership of F1 races beyond Netflix series. “This increase in viewership means more people see F1 sponsors’ branding put on cars and paint colors,” it said. “Netflix has a responsibility not to provide promotional content, even if it indirectly, of tobacco company brands,” Jorge Alday of STOP told AFP.

Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A global pact has called for the elimination of all tobacco advertising, the use of which the World Health Organization estimates kills more than eight million people each year. And the International Automobile Federation (FIA), the governing body of Formula 1, has for two decades recommended against tobacco company sponsorship in the sport.

Since then, tobacco companies have stopped promoting their traditional cigarette brands with F1, but in some cases have continued to push for newer alternatives such as e-cigarettes. “They live in the gray area around what is and isn’t tobacco marketing,” says Alday.

When contacted by AFP, the FIA ​​said it “remains resolutely opposed to tobacco advertising and continues to adhere to the 2003 recommendations”. However, it said, “we are not in a position to interfere in the private commercial arrangements between teams and their sponsors, or broadcast arrangements.” Meanwhile, Formula One emphasizes that “all advertising is subject to applicable law.”

Advertising through historical footage

Wednesday’s report found that PMI and BAT have spent around $40 million on F1 advertising by 2022. BAT’s Vuse e-cigarette products and Velo nicotine bags “are the most prominent brands in McLaren cars. throughout the season,” the report said.

It turns out that the branding for these products appeared in 13 of the 22 races, including at the Mexico City Grand Prix, despite Mexico’s aggressive advertising restrictions. PMI, one of the oldest and oldest F1 sponsors, meanwhile dramatically reduced spending last year. Although it remains a Ferrari partner, its logo and design no longer appear on the team’s cars, the report said.

When contacted by AFP, the company’s vice president of international communications Tommaso Di Giovanni confirmed that the partnership between Netflix and F1 “has nothing to do with us”, noting that they have stopped building Branding products on cars and driver’s clothing since 2007.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s report claims that the tobacco giant, which has spent nearly $2.4 billion on advertising since first entering the sport in 1971, continues to attract profits. Branding from Netflix series through historical footage. Report co-author Caroline Reid of Formula Money pointed out in a statement that a “minute-long historical video features five different brands of cigarettes, including PMI’s Marlboro.”

First published date: March 8, 2023, 12:13 PM IST


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