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Encyclopedia > Virginia Slims
1978 Virginia Slims magazine ad. The image at the top is a photograph of a woman hanging laundry outside. The ad text reads: "Back then, every man gave his wife at least one day a week out of the house. You've come a long way, baby. Virginia Slims – Slimmer than the fat cigarettes men smoke."
1978 Virginia Slims magazine ad. The image at the top is a photograph of a woman hanging laundry outside. The ad text reads: "Back then, every man gave his wife at least one day a week out of the house. You've come a long way, baby. Virginia Slims – Slimmer than the fat cigarettes men smoke."

Virginia Slims is a brand of cigarette manufactured by Philip Morris. The brand was introduced in 1968 and directly marketed to young, professional women, under the famous slogan, "You've come a long way, baby." Some media watchgroups considered this Virginia Slims marketing campaign to be responsible for a rapid increase in smoking among teenage girls.[1] Later campaigns have used the slogans, "It's a woman thing," in the 1990s, and "Find your voice." A report by the Surgeon General of the United States has interpreted these marketing strategies as attempting to link smoking "to women's freedom, emancipation, and empowerment."[2] This report also tied the increase of smoking among teenage girls to rises in sales of Virginia Slims and other "niche" brands marketed directly to women. 1978 Virginia Slims cigarette ad, posted under fair use for commentary on marketing strategy. ... 1978 Virginia Slims cigarette ad, posted under fair use for commentary on marketing strategy. ... Wikibooks has more about this subject: Marketing A brand is a collection of images and ideas representing an economic producer; more specifically, it refers to the concrete symbols such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme. ... A lit cigarette will burn to ash from one end. ... Altria Group, Inc. ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ... US Public Health Service US Public Health Service Collar Device US Public Health Service Cap Device The Surgeon General of the United States is the head of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and, ex officio, is the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the government...


Virginia Slims are much narrower (23mm circumference) than ordinary cigarettes (hence, "Slims"), and are also longer than normal "king-sized" cigarettes (which are 84mm), sold only in longer 100mm and 120mm lengths, to give the cigarettes a more "elegant" appearance and ostensibly to reduce the amount of smoke they produce. They are also sold in "Superslims", "light," "ultra-light," and menthol varieties. The packaging is white with vertical colored stripes running along the left side. Menthol is a covalent organic compound made synthetically or obtained from peppermint or other mint oils. ...

Contents

History

Virginia Slims was introduced in September of 1968 by Philip Morris, and marketed as a female-oriented spinoff to their Benson and Hedges brand. The blends, flavorings, color scheme, and overall marketing concepts closely follow the Benson and Hedges model. Early packs (1968-1978) said Benson and Hedges (near the bottom).


The first test-market was in San Francisco, California. The test was originally scheduled for six months, but was cut short after 3 1/2 months due to the overwhelming success of the introduction - a nearly 3% market penetration. Shortly thereafter, distribution and marketing was implemented on a nationwide basis.

  • In 1976, a 120-mm full-flavor packing was test-marketed in Fresno, California. Designed to compete with RJ Reynolds 'More' brand, the test ultimately failed and this entry was withdrawn.
  • In 1978, Virginia Slims Lights were introduced, with good success. Although early marketing concepts included soft pack, Philip Morris decided to go exclusively with a box-pack design.


Throughout the early 80's, growth and market penetration was significant, drawing the attention of competitors who introduced their own competing brands (including American Tobacco Company's Misty and Brown and Williamson's Capri brands).

  • In 1984, Virginia Slims Ovals were test-marketed, but were unsuccessful and eventually withdrawn. Ovals were light, and had an oval-shaped circumference.
  • In 1985, Virginia Slims Luxury Light 120's were introduced - a 120 mm length packing again intended to compete with RJ Reynolds 'More' brand, as well as other 120's now on the market. The introduction was successful. This packing has since become a mainstay of the smoking glamour community. It is arguable as to whether VS120's are truly 'light', since their rating numbers compare more closely to full-flavor.
  • In 1987, Ultra-Light 100's were introduced, in keeping with changing consumer tastes, other competetive entries, and the Benson and Hedges model. Marginally successful, this packing remains on the market today.
  • In 1990, Ultra-Light SuperSlim 100's were introduced, in response to ultra-thin (21mm circumference) competition and consumer demand for a 'low-smoke' product entry. These were also marginally successful, and remain on the market.
  • In 1993, a 10-Pack version of Light 100's were introduced, with 10 cigarettes per pack, and costing approximately half the price of a 20-pack. This entry met with limited success and came under some attack from critics. It was ultimately withdrawn.
  • In 1994, Virginia Slims Kings (85mm length) were designed as a discount entry and possibly to compete with other king-size entries such as RJ Reynolds' Camel brand. It is not clear whether Kings were ever test-marketed, but they were never introduced.
  • In 2003, a box-pack was introduced for full-flavor 100's, in response to consumer demand.
  • In 2005, Ultra-Light 120's were introduced with marginal success. It is likely that this packing will continue to be supported.


All packings were simultaneously introduced in both Menthol and Non-menthol (e.g., Regular or Filter) varieties. Menthol usually represents 45%-55% of the total sales of a particular packing.


In all, there have been 11 packings introduced or test-marketed in the U.S., of which 7 are still on the market. There are other varieties marketed internationally; specifically, entries marketed in the Asian-Pacific region, Russia, and South Africa. Virginia Slims has never had a significant European or South American presence.


Marketing

From inception, Virginia Slims have been designed and marketed as a female-oriented brand, generally targeted towards a younger demographic (18-35 year olds). While various themes have emerged in the marketing campaigns over the years, the basic threads have been independence, liberation, slimness, attractiveness, glamour, style, taste, and a contrast to men's cigarettes.


Television and print ads often featured well-known models and designer fashions. Print ads were generally placed in women's magazines, and formed the mainstay of the marketing campaign, supplemented with billboards and point-of-purchase displays. From 1969 until 1971, television advertising was an important component.


Virginia Slims also sponsored the Women's Tennis circuit. This sponsorship is sometimes credited for the growth and success of women's tennis during the 70's and early 80's.


Several other, less important, marketing vehicles were employed, such as the Virginia Slims Book of Days (a day timer/calendar book), fashion shows, and an extensive line of products, apparel, and accessories available to consumers.


The Leo Burnett advertising agency handled the Virginia Slims account throughout most of the product lifetime.


Trivia

  • Virginia Slims was the last cigarette brand to advertise on US television, airing an ad just before midnight on the night of New Year's Day 1971. The ad aired during an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and featured a pre-Hill Street Blues Veronica Hamel.
  • The slogan "You've come a long way, baby." is the name of the 1998 album of the British musician Fatboy Slim.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was the full name of NBCs The Tonight Show during the years that Johnny Carson hosted from 1962 to 1992. ... Hill Street Blues was a serial police drama that first aired on NBC in 1981 and ran for 146 episodes on primetime into 1987. ... Actress Veronica Hamel was born in Philadelphia (November 20, 1943). ... Fatboy Slim (born Quentin Leo Cook on July 31, 1963, also known as Norman Cook) is an English musician in the dance music genre. ...

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Virginia Slims - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (318 words)
Virginia Slims is a brand of cigarette manufactured by Philip Morris.
The brand was introduced in 1968 and directly marketed to young, professional women, under the famous slogan, "You've come a long way, baby." Some media watchgroups considered this Virginia Slims marketing campaign to be responsible for a rapid increase in smoking among teenage girls.
Virginia Slims was the last cigarette brand to advertise on US television, airing an ad just before midnight on the night of New Year's Day 1971.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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