As Philip Morris and Ferrari reach their 50th year anniversary as partners, an expected contract renewal is appearing difficult to materialize.
Last weekend, a statement from Riccardo Parino, Philip Morris’ vice-president of partnerships, read “the Mission Winnow logo will not be featured on the Scuderia Ferrari livery during races in the EU, starting with the French Grand Prix this weekend”.
This would not be the first time the Mission Winnow brand would be omitted from their partners’ liveries – in 2019 it barely appeared during races in the EU, then to completely disappear on-track in 2020 due to the global pandemic.
Despite this, the timeline of events show that there might be a distance setting its place among the two parties.
The current deal between Ferrari and the tobacco giant was orchestrated by former Philip Morris key-members – former CEO Louis Camilleri and former head of marketing Maurizio Arrivabene – as a 3-year contract signed at the end of 2017.
With these ties in hand, Maurizio Arrivabene would be appointed Ferrari’s team principal by the late Sergio Marchionne, who was replaced as the manufacturer’s CEO by Louis Camilleri after his passing in 2018.
Just after the arrival of Camilleri to the scuderia, Philip Morris unveiled a new product-less brand, Mission Winnow, that would become the Prancing Horse’s title sponsor from the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix onwards.
In December 2020, Louis Camilleri resigned from his positions at Philip Morris and Ferrari for “personal reasons”, after being hospitalised for COVID-19.
A source revealed to Decalspotters that there were strong rumours of Philip Morris’ departure from Ferrari ruminating at the start of the year as the Italian team searched for a new title sponsor.
Philip Morris has another partner in the Bologna-based MotoGP team, Ducati Corse, who revealed in early 2021 the signing of Lenovo as the team’s new title sponsor, replacing Mission Winnow as it remained a main sponsor albeit with reduced presence.
This is an alternative that Ferrari could be looking into if they were to renew with Philip Morris, which looks so ever unlikely as the calendar approaches the summer break.
Another alternative would be using the Mission Winnow brand exclusively online, as there are no regulations that could possibly prohibit their association – Mission Winnow has already exploited this after declaring its removal from races in the EU.
Decalspotters accessed a supposed rebranding of the Mission Winnow image from their website, which incorporates the green colour that the brand uses on the Ferrari car livery this year.
A noticeable change in the design of the icon is observed, which can be interpreted as a way to dissociate from the accusations that Mission Winnow is a subliminal advertisement for Marlboro.
Nevertheless, there’s still the chance of Philip Morris pulling the plug as Ferrari’s highest-paying sponsor, thus ending the longest ever partnership in Formula 1 history.
If this were to happen, Shell would then become the scuderia’s highest-paying sponsor, in a partnership renewed in early 2021 with “focus on sustainability and technology transfer, from track to road”.
Philip Morris have yet to respond when we asked for a comment regarding the Mission Winnow rebranding and future with Ferrari.
There are rumours circulating around the business industry indicating that Armani Group could become a minority share of Ferrari.
The famous Italian luxury fashion house announced a multi-year partnership in March, coming prior to the announcement from Ferrari CEO, John Elkann, that Ferrari would open its fashion line.
Ferrari launched its first luxury collection designed by ex-Armani designer Rocco Iannone in June, at the Maranello factory.
The Prancing Horse has expressed its desire to be more than just a car manufacturer but a global luxury brand, which makes it a desirable brand for Armani Group, taking Philip Morris’ influence in the team.