Flashback Friday — "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!"

1968 can reasonably be described as year filled with change and progress…a year mentioned in many contexts throughout history books. 1968 was also the year Phillip Morris made decided to capitalize on the feminist movement.  Their sassy, attitude-filled Virginia Slims campaign targeted and seduced women to wrap their lips around their new “feminine” cigarette. And while the slogan included what many view to be a demeaning term for women, and the product itself significantly shortened the life of its users, Virginia Slims ended the monopoly those “chauvinist men” had on lung and throat cancer.
The Virginia Slims “You’ve come a long way, baby” ad campaign was very eye catching. Billboards, magazines, and television advertisements presented confident and slender female models dressed in the latest fashions while smoking a Virginia Slims cigarette. Many times the ads would also include a second image of a housewife from the turn of the century being punished by an authority figure like a police officer or husband for smoking. It was this imagery and their emotive “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” tagline that successfully tied the cigarette brand to the feminist movement. The smoking of a Virginia Slims cigarette had become an act of triumph over the traditional female role.
The Virginia Slims cigarette was portrayed as slender, dainty, and feminine. In reality, however, it may have been thinner, but lacked any innovation beyond tat. It was the advertising that sold women on the product.
Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s,  Virginia Slims took the cigarette industry by storm becoming the preferred cigarette of women in the United States. They had created a brand of cigarettes that had not only become a symbol within the women’s suffrage movement, but also made the habit of smoking trendy during a time when it was seen as a serious faux pas for women.
(The irony of the Women’s Tennis Association Tour being sponsored by Virginia Slims back in the day also needs to be mentioned and taken in while reading this blog post.)

Within the last 40 years, many other brands (also catering specifically to ladies) have been introduced. However, none have surpassed the popularity or brand recognition achieved by Philip Morris’ Virginia Slims. And to this day, the Virginia Slims brand continues to be symbol of self-confidence, freedom, and financial empowerment to women all over the world.