How French advertising laws affected the crypto branding of F1 teams

In Formula 1 terms, crypto products are effectively the sport’s “new tobacco” – the products are controversial, the brands are flush with money, have limited global marketing platforms and fit F1’s vibrant image.

Likewise, as many are discovering in France and elsewhere, the advertising of these products is not only more and more regulated, but the laws in force are extremely vague.

Eight out of ten teams currently have crypto partners of some kind, with Williams and Haas being the outliers. In fact, some teams have two such partners: Alfa Romeo, with Vauld and Floki, and Red Bull Racing, which is associated with ByBit and Tezos, the latter shared with McLaren. F1 and Aston Martin, who have both signed deals with Crypto.com, are also on a split kick.

Advertising

Another complication is that the term “crypto” covers a variety of products, namely virtual currencies, trading platforms and virtual wallets.

Factor in the fact that some brands, such as controversial Alpine sponsor Binance, consist of trading exchanges and some form of cryptocurrency, and the issue becomes extremely complex, with teams forced to take legal advice on what is authorized in France, among others . The Financial Markets Agency regulates the domestic financial markets.

Depending on the products and markets targeted, some products are registered with the AMF, others are awaiting approval and still others fall outside the scope of the AMF. Thus the massive confusion where teams and sponsors generally err on the side of caution. So who is affected and who is not?

Teams explain crypto branding decisions

Starting with Crypto.com, a spokesperson explained RacingNews365.com the reasons for his decision to become invisible for the race.

“Crypto.com has decided that it will not exercise its trademark rights for this race,” the spokesman said, “but it remains F1’s global partner and we expect those rights to be exercised in other ways in future races.” The same decision applies to its partnership with Aston Martin.

Red Bull Racing unveiled both of its logos over the weekend after discussions with its crypto sponsors, saying: “Our legal team is aware of the situation and we are in communication with our partners.”

Mercedes also took legal advice on displaying the FTX mark before making the same decision. Ferrari’s sponsor, Velas, is blockchain-based and therefore falls outside the scope of the AMF.

“Velas Network AG has informed us that it does not provide services that require registration with [AMF] and therefore there is no advertising ban regarding the use of the Velas logo on Scuderia Ferrari assets in connection with the French GP,” a spokesperson said. RacingNews365.com.

In a statement, McLaren confirmed that the team is aware of the latest updates on cryptocurrency advertising restrictions and has been working closely with partner OKX on the issue. He raced with that partner’s brand during the French Grand Prix weekend, the statement concluded, while adding that the team was unable to comment on the Tezos brand.

Alpine has confirmed that it has removed all Binance branding for this race from all of its driver apparel, race cars and trailers, and even team stationery as a precaution. A spokesperson for Fantom’s digital ecosystem partner AlphaTauri said: “Knowing the regulations here in France regarding cryptocurrency, after discussions with our partner, it has been decided to avoid any advertising on French soil.”

Alfa Romeo also removed any reference to cryptocurrency partners, saying: “The team complies with all French regulations regarding the advertising of cryptocurrency partners on the car. We have been informed that in order to display a cryptocurrency partner logo in France, the cryptocurrency brand must be registered with the AMF, which is not the case for two of our cryptocurrency partners.

“Therefore both Vauld (currency platform) and Floki (cryptocurrency) brands will not be displayed on our car this weekend.”

Historically strict French laws

That such restrictions are imposed in France comes as no surprise to the F1 community: the country has for many years had the strictest anti-tobacco, alcohol and gambling laws in Europe, as Williams discovered. For this race in 2018: It was necessary to remove any Martini markings, not only for the race, but also for the transit through France from the previous race and the subsequent race.

However, the word is that the situation becomes much more complicated. There are already EU-wide bans on the marketing of certain cryptocurrencies and platforms. The teams will therefore have to be even more diligent in their choice of crypto partners.

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