Virginia Slims: Female-targeted Campaigns

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As both the first and most popular female-specific cigarette brand, Virginia Slims wants women to believe that smoking will help lead them on the road to independence and empowerment. At the height of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Philip Morris launched Virginia Slims with the slogan “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!” Just six years after the introduction of Virginia Slims and other female-targeted campaigns, the smoking rate of 12-year-old girls increased by 110 percent. Using imagery of young, beautiful women in its advertising, Virginia Slims portrays smoking as part of a glamorous, thin, independent and healthy lifestyle. But the promises in the ads contradict the reality of the product. Cigarettes are addictive and render their users dependent. Smoking causes disease and death, not a healthy lifestyle. Yet, despite decades of evidence that link smoking to death and disease, Philip Morris has continued to promote Virginia Slims with the same campaign messages and images for over four decades.
Creative and communicative strategy was developed by the agency Leo Burnett Moscow, the partner of Philip Morris Sales and Marketing. The main idea of the campaign is renewing, freshness and art. Creative note is in every woman now. Taking into consideration the versatility of women individuality, Virginia Slims cigarettes give adult smokers one more possibility of self‐expression; call not only to follow fashion tendencies, but also to create their own style, being inspired by Virginia Slims cigarettes.
New smooth flavor with pleasant light nuances, new fresh colors on the pack, new design of logotype and new description of brand. The campaign aims at refined, good informed, intellectual adult women, who are keen on literature, cinema and creative work.

The result of Virginia Slim’s and other female-targeted campaigns is clear: more women now die of lung cancer than breast, ovarian and cervical cancers combined. Each year, an average of 175,000 women in the US will die from a tobacco-related disease. And, countless others will suffer from spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, low birth weight babies, and infertility.

Today, while the tobacco industry continues to target women in the US, it has also set its sights on unsuspecting women in developing nations where basic education, let alone tobacco education, is often non-existent or denied to women.

LUNG CANCER LEADING CAUSE OF CANCER DEATH FOR WOMEN – Nearly twenty years after the Virginia Slims campaign began, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the No. 1 cancer killer among women.

PREYING ON WOMEN AND THE ILLUSION OF INDEPENDENCE – Women became a major target of the tobacco industry during the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s. But instead of helping women achieve their independence, smoking has left many dependent on tobacco.

GLAMOR CIGARETTES USE – If you believe Virginia Slims, female smokers are all beautiful, sexy, sophisticated, independent, athletic and young. But the fact is, smoking contributes to premature wrinkling, yellow-teeth and causes to many lifethreatening diseases including heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

EXPLOITING A WOMAN’S DESIRE TO BE THIN – Labeling its products as “slims” or “thins” exploits societal pressures women face regarding their weight and perpetuates the misconception that smoking will help a person lose weight or stay thin.

LOSING YOUR VOICE – A recent Virginia Slims advertising campaign suggested that smoking could help you “Find Your Voice.” However, smoking increases the risk of developing throat and larynx cancer, which greatly impairs a victim’s voice. Philip Morris removed the slogan in 2000 after being questioned in a court of law about whether the slogan might be offensive to smokers with throat cancer.

BUYING SILENCE – Women’s magazines that accept tobacco advertising are significantly less likely to publish articles on the dangers of smoking, compared to those publication’s that don’t accept tobacco ads.

THE HIDDEN TRUTH BEHIND “LIGHTS” – Philip Morris was recently found guilty of defrauding “Light” smokers by suggesting that “Light” cigarettes were less harmful. “Light” and “Ultra Light” tobacco products are just as hazardous as regular cigarettes.

TARGETING ETHNIC WOMEN– Similar to past campaigns, Virginia Slims’ latest campaign still aligns smoking with messages of empowerment and independence, such as “I will be many things.” Today however, ads target female ethnic groups, especially those that have below average smoking rates, including Asian and Hispanic women.
 
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