Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix Criticised Over Tobacco Advertising

Tobacco brands are among the biggest advertisers for F1 teams, with logos prominently seen on the cars.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix Criticised Over Tobacco Advertising

Photo Credit: Netflix

Wednesday's report showed that the viewers of Drive to Survive were younger than typical F1 audiences

  • Formula 1 insisted that "all advertising is in line with applicable laws"
  • A global treaty has called for the elimination of all advertising for tob
  • PMI and BAT spent an estimated $40 million on F1 advertising in 2022

Netflix's popular Formula One show is providing tobacco giants with a fast and effective marketing vehicle to swerve past bans on advertising their product, industry monitors said Wednesday.

The behind-the-scenes Formula One streaming series Drive to Survive has been hugely popular on Netflix, which recently released the fifth season.

But campaigners warn that beyond boosting the motor sport's popularity, the show is also delivering into homes worldwide the branding of cigarette companies that sponsor F1 teams, including in countries where tobacco advertising is banned.

In a fresh report, F1 industry monitor Formula Money 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 contained tobacco-related content."

And half of all episodes during that season contained tobacco-related branding in the opening minute, according to the report, entitled: "Driving Addiction: F1, Netflix and Cigarette Company Advertising".

The product branding of Ferrari sponsor Philip Morris International (PMI) and McLaren sponsor British American Tobacco (BAT) has "heavily featured in the series, with extended plotlines following the teams' drivers," the report said.

"Research suggests that PMI and BAT are reaching new audiences through the show, including people who don't otherwise watch F1 races," it added.

Younger audiences 

Wednesday's report showed that the viewers of Drive to Survive were younger than typical F1 audiences, and also suggested it had contributed towards significantly increasing viewership of F1 races beyond the Netflix series.

"This increase in viewers means more people see the branding F1 sponsors place on the cars and livery," it said.

"Netflix has a responsibility to not deliver content that is promoting, even if it's indirectly, cigarette company brands," Jorge Alday of STOP told AFP.

Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A global treaty has called for the elimination of all advertising for tobacco, the use of which the World Health Organization estimates kills more than eight million people each year.

And the International Automobile Federation (FIA), Formula One's governing body, has for two decades recommended against tobacco company sponsorship in the sport.

The tobacco companies have since stopped advertising for their traditional cigarette brands with F1, but have in some cases continued to push newer alternative products like e-cigarettes.

"They live in this grey area around what is and what isn't tobacco marketing," Alday said.

When contacted by AFP, the FIA said it "remains firmly opposed to tobacco advertising and continues to stand by its 2003 recommendations".

However, it said, "we are not in a position to interfere with the private commercial arrangements between the teams and their sponsors, or broadcast agreements."

Formula One meanwhile insisted that "all advertising is in line with applicable laws."

Advertising through historic footage 

Wednesday's report found that PMI and BAT spent an estimated $40 million on F1 advertising in 2022.

BAT's Vuse e-cigarette and Velo nicotine pouch products "were the most prominent brands on the McLaren livery throughout the season," the report said.

It pointed out that branding for these products appeared at 13 out of 22 races, including at the Mexico City Grand Prix, despite Mexico's strong advertising restrictions.

PMI, one of the oldest and longest standing F1 sponsors, meanwhile scaled back its spending significantly last year.

While it remained a Ferrari partner, its logos and designs no longer appeared on the team's cars, the report found.

When contacted by AFP, the company's vice president of international communications Tommaso Di Giovanni insisted that the partnership between Netflix and F1 "has nothing to do with us," insisting that it had discontinued product branding on cars and drivers' apparel since 2007.

Wednesday's report meanwhile claimed that the tobacco giant, which has spent nearly $2.4 billion on advertising since it first entered the sport in 1971, continued to draw branding advantage from the Netflix series through historic footage.

Report co-author Caroline Reid of Formula Money pointed out in a statement that a single "minute of historic footage featured five different cigarette brands, including PMI's Marlboro."

From smartphones with rollable displays or liquid cooling, to compact AR glasses and handsets that can be repaired easily by their owners, we discuss the best devices we've seen at MWC 2023 on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Affiliate links may be automatically generated - see our ethics statement for details.

Formula 1: Drive to Survive Season 5

  • Release Date 24 February 2023
  • Genre Documentary
  • Producer
    James Gay-Rees, Paul Martin, Sophie Todd

For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on X, Facebook, WhatsApp, Threads and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you want to know everything about top influencers, follow our in-house Who'sThat360 on Instagram and YouTube.

Apple to Limit ProMotion and Always-on Display Feature to High-End iPhone 15 Pro Models: Report
Share on Facebook Gadgets360 Twitter Share Tweet Snapchat Share Reddit Comment google-newsGoogle News


Follow Us


© Copyright Red Pixels Ventures Limited 2024. All rights reserved.
Trending Products »
Latest Tech News »