Formula 1: at the heart of the tobacco companies’ great years

Tobacco companies have played an important role in motorsport for many years.

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Agnes Carlier, always present in the F1 circus, experienced this era after having worked for a long time as press secretary for Philip Morris, which notably sponsored Ferrari and its great star Michael Schumacher.

Ms Carlier got her start in Formula 1 in 1981 when the Marlboro brand became associated with McLaren

The wind changes direction

“The budgets weren’t that big, but our Italian boss was passionate about motorsport and that was reflected in the company’s communications,” she says. Our advertising took up a lot of space on the side of the cars and we developed an aesthetic side that didn’t exist. At one point we had 18 pilots wearing our colors. Nelson Piquet is one of the few who has never been sponsored by Marlboro.

Ms. Carlier felt the tide turn in the late 1990s: “When American lawyers came to my office in 1998 and asked me to destroy all the photo archives, I felt that things were changing,” t-she emphasizes. It was time to go.”

“Politicians have never wanted to understand that tobacco companies’ advertising is not aimed at attracting young people, but at taking market share away from their competitors,” the journalist from the Japanese press agency Kyodo continued. It was easier to stop the ads.”

Craig Polock’s Appeal

The phone rang quickly. “Craig Pollock invited me to join the BAR team that started its activities. It’s a fairy tale to be able to design everything from scratch. We had no tires, no engine and no driver. Then Jacques Villeneuve was hired.”

Press Officer in French Ministerial Offices, Carlier made the jump to Formula 1 to spend more time with her husband, who was sporting director of Le Parisien and author of The F1 Guestbook. “We met at Roland-Garros in 1974 and after a few years my husband told me to get a job in the sporting world or we wouldn’t be able to see each other. At the time, I was being interviewed by Philip Morris, who hasn’t had a press secretary for ten years. They were traumatized because their former attaché had died on duty.

Mme Carlier discovered the Grand Prix du Canada through Robert Ferland, the event’s first promoter, brother of Jean-Pierre Ferland and friend of her husband.

Mme Carlier is still as passionate about F1 after more than five decades. “I’ve got F1 in my skin,” she summarized. I was connected to the fathers of Schumacher and Verstapen.

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