In the recent years (and not so recent) the EU has been publishing laws forbidding the advertising of tobacco and alcohol in TV shows, radios, and specially in sports events; the main idea behind it being that the european youth is still getting very soon into smoking and drinking; and thus forbidding the advertising (and specially in those areas where young people are the main commercial target) should help lower those numbers. Fine. I can applaud the sentiment.
Is it working? No, I don't think so. And I want to focus in sports events, specially in motor sports, which have traditionally been a great field for these kind of companies to put their marketing money and efforts. Letting aside the fact that Phillip Morris, at a rate of HUNDREDS of euros per year, is still the main advertiser and investor in Ferrari F1, for just the vage shadow of a code bar that remembers where the big Marlboro logo used to go, the law is having an undesired effect.
Do we remember when big companies started to take as much as their production to countries where manufacturer costs are the lowest possible? So clothes are made in China, computers are assembled in Korea or Taiwan and programming is done in India. Well, it is easy to see how the same is happening in motorsports right now.
F1 and Moto GP used to be (and probably still are) the most important championships of their categories. And they used to be mainly European championships with a few races in the US and Japan. But times are changing. Europe is forbidding their most important source of money (we are talking about very costly championships here) and (here's the tricky part) in these days the 'other' source of money (i.e.: supporters cash) is no longer coming form race day tickets, at least no longer in an important proportion. It comes in merchandising goods and ... from TV. Pay par view, TV advertising... you name it. So, the races can be organized in the dessert, who cares? I mean, they are LITERALLY being held in circuits built from scratch in the dessert. Think of the advantages: lots of money from oil-rich countries, no unconfortable anti-ad laws, brand (and cheap to build) circuits. So what? TV Cameras still get there. I can still watch MIchael Schumacher from my sofa on my big HD TV on a Sunday morning. And... wait for it... HE CAN CARRY A TOBACCO LOGO IN HIS SUIT. And I get it, in my TV, in Europe, on prime time. And if Schumacher's team still can't rely on tobacco money (there are still a lot of races in Europe, where they would have to remove the ads) the circuits can use it. So I get it anyway during the two hours the race lasts. And another two for the pre-race. One more for the qualy.....
So, apart from losing some of the classic circuits and classic races, the law is got not much of its job done. Yes, sadly, Nürburgring is no longer one of the classics in the F1 championship. Let's all embrace the Abu-Dabi Grand Prix. Have fun.