A barcode logo on the Ferrari F1 team's car is a subliminal advert for Marlboro cigarettes, according to leading doctors and advertising experts.
They're mounting pressure on the EU to launch an enquiry over the mystery logo, which adorns Ferrari's cars and its drivers' overalls. Leading medical experts want to know more about the Italian race team's multi-million dollar relationship with Marlboro Cigarettes.
'The barcode looks like the bottom of a pack of Marlboro cigarettes,' said John Britton of the Royal College of Physicians. 'I think this is advertising. Why a barcode? What's their explanation?' Gerard Hastings of Tobacco Control Research told the Times.
And advertising experts believe Ferrari's red white and black barcode motif could remind consumers of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes. Don Creston of ad agency DLKW believes the logo is subliminal - when a brand is so recognisable, people can be reminded of it without actually seeing the logo or name.
The EU banned tobacco advertising in sports in 2002. But in 2005, Philip Morris, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, continued its sponsorship of Ferrari F1 in a deal rumoured to be worth $1 billion a year. Now questions are being asked as to why, and what else the bar code could mean.