The tobacco brand JPS may be taking advantage of the return to Formula 1 of the black and gold livery that will be seen this year on the Lotus Renault GP team. Given that the team is taking advantage of the livery, to link itself to the efforts of JPS Team Lotus between 1972 and 1986, it is not outrageous for the tobacco company to do the same, particularly as this is not against law in countries that still allow point-of-sale advertising.
Our spies in Austria have spotted JPS motor racing-linked tobacco point-of-sale advertising in recent days. This uses a depiction of a grid and the words “The Legend”, with a JPS branded cigarette packet featuring racing tyres at each corner. This is going to be seen as linked to the black and gold racing cars that Lotus Renault GP will be running this year, even if the tobacco company and the racing team argue that such a thing should not be the case.
The JPS brand is sold in Austria by Imperial Tobacco Austria Marketing Service Gmbh, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco. In accordance with the EU tobacco advertising directive, tobacco advertising has been prohibited in Austria. But while tobacco branding is no longer allowed to appear on racing cars, there is nothing to stop racing cars appearing on cigarette packets, or advertising relating to them. Such ideas have been tried before, notably by Marlboro, which has used a wide variety of different F1-linked packaging for its cigarettes in markets across the world since the global ban on tobacco advertising in F1 began in 2006. These have not been used in recent years for fear that the authorities will move against point-of-sale advertising, something that is already being suggested should happen in the most anti-smoking countries, such as the United States. The team continues to be called Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and there has been speculation that the deal between Marlboro and Ferrari will be extended again soon until the end of 2014. An announcement to that effect is expected at the launch of the new Ferrari at the end of the month.
It remains to be seen whether there any formal commercial links between Lotus Renault GP and JPS, but given the team’s need for more funding it would not be a surprise as the tobacco industry is rarely short of cash and hard-pressed to find ways to advertise without getting into trouble.