This is an interesting piece of news. Apparently a group of doctors are demanding an investigation to be carried out regarding a possible Marlboro advertising on Ferrari’s Formula 1 team as part of a sponsorship deal worth US$100 million. The doctors are saying that the ‘bar code’ design on the car and team apparel is a subliminal Marlboro advertising.

Under EU legislation it is an offense to carry out tobacco advertising in sporting events. Marlboro’s parent company Phillip Morris previously signed a sponsorship deal with Ferrari that will go on till 2011. However it was understood that Ferrari will not carry Marlboro’s branding where there was a ban.

Member of the Royal College of Physicians and Director of the tobacco advisory group John Britton said, “The bar code looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes.” “I was stunned when I saw it. This is pushing at the limits. If you look at how the bar code has evolved over the last four years, it looks like creeping branding,” he added.

A Ferrari spokesperson then responded by saying, “The bar code is part of the livery of the car, it is not part of a subliminal advertising campaign. US$100 million is not a correct figure; we are not disclosing the figure but it is lower than the figure you mention.”

Ferrari is also the only Formula 1 team which carries a tobacco brand name in its official title. Do you think of the tobacco brand when you see the ‘bar code’ above?