Virginia Slims was the first and most popular female-specific cigarette brand. Philip Morris launched the brand in 1968 at the height of the women’s liberation movement with the slogan, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”
Philip Morris portrayed smart, independent, empowered, thin women and implied that smoking is part of these healthy women’s lives.
The reality is, however, that cigarettes are addictive. Smoking leads to disease and death, not a healthy lifestyle. Yet, despite decades of evidence to the contrary, Philip Morris continues to promote Virginia Slims with the same false campaign messages of success, beauty and independence that they have for over four decades.
Targeting women was very effective; 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.1
The tobacco industry is setting its sights on women in developing nations, where basic education, let alone tobacco education, is often non-existent or denied to women.
In 2006, R.J. Reynolds (RJR) launched Camel No. 9 cigarettes, aimed at women, spending up to $50 million on marketing to launch the new brand.2
How did Camel No. 9 promotional activities (images above) attract teenage girls?
RJR also promoted Camel Snus with a 17-page purse-sized pink booklet. At first glance, it appears that it is targeting adult males. However, when read more closely, it appeals more to young women by referencing “commuting essentials” such as a change purse, pepper spray and romance novel.