Virginia Slims: Brand History
Virginia Slims Filter 100's
Test marketed during July and August,1968, in San Francisco and introduced nationally in September,1968, as the "slim cigarette for women . . . only," Virginia Slims was marketed in both filter 100's and menthol 100's. The filter 100's style was packaged in off-white with brown and gold stripes in various shades on the left side. "Virginia Slims" was printed in black in the lower half of the package with smaller copy ("Filter, Benson & Hedges," etc.) in gold.
Initial sales of the plain style were 650 million units for a market share of 0.1%.
The filter and menthol styles shared most introductory advertising and were launched with "the biggest introductory advertising program in Philip Morris history." Virginia Slims Filter 100's had an advertising budget of $5.4 million. Television was the style's base medium with 87% of the total budget. Other expenditures included $436,000 in magazines, $109,000 in newspapers, $79,000 in supplements, and $8,000 in spot radio. CPM for 1968 was $2.75.
Commercials, generally :60's, followed the liberated woman theme looking "back in the old days" through mock-ups of old films and featuring a stylishly dressed modern woman with the jingle, "You've come a long way, baby to get where you got today, you've got your own cigarette, now baby, you've come a long, long way. " -A female announcer described the cigarette as "tailored for the feminine hand. . , with flavor women like . . . rich, mild Virginia flavor . . . in the slim purse pack."
The campaign was translated into print through photographs or drawings of early women's rights organizations or scenes of the women of the early 1900's sneaking a cigarette. Copy generally followed the commercial messages and used, "You've come a long way, baby" as a headline.
Sales in 1969 reached 2.8 billion units for a total market share of .5%. The brand's share of the plain fitter segment was 1.1%.
Virginia Slims' advertising expenditures were boosted to $6.5 million with 90% going to network and spot television. Magazines were the only other medium used by Virginia Slims in 1969. CPM for the year was $2.32.
Commercials changed only slightly in 1969, switching from "introducing Virginia Slims" to "Now there's a cigarette for women."
Print also continued to use the time contrast idea, but added occasional ads which featured only the "modern" woman with the copy, "We made Virginia Slims especially for women because women are dainty and beautiful and sweet and generally different from men. Virginia Slims. You've come a long way, baby."
Virginia Slims Filter 100's continued its upward sales trend through 1970 with 3.1 billion units. The brand's share of the total market reached .6% while its share of the plain filter segment was 1.2%.
Television again received the major portion (82%) of Virginia Slims Filter's $5.1 million advertising budget. Magazines received another 17.5% with newspapers and supplements each receiving a tiny allocation. CPM in 1970 was $1.65.
Commercials included stylishly dressed models getting hit in the face with pies as a man grumbled in the background. "For my money women have come too far . . . that cigarette's too good for women," The man ducks a pic, only to get soaked by a couple of buckets of water as a woman replied, "Virginia Slims, still the one cigarette for women only." Basic copy in other commercials was unchanged.
The print theme also was unchanged although a sub-head added, "Virginia Slims, the taste for today's woman."
Virginia Slims sponsored a "New Year's Eve in Paris" sweepstakes, offering trips to Paris for 25 winning couples, New Year's Eve Party Kits (a case of French champagne/ party hats and favors) for 100 second place winners, and 1,000 bottles of Miss Dior Perfume for third place winners.
Although sales continued to climb for the filter style in 1971 with 3.3 billion units, market and segment share remained unchanged at 0.6% and 1.2%.
In 1971 Magazines were allocated $1.7 million, supplements $632,000 and outdoor advertising $276,000.
Ads continued to use, "You've come a long way, baby," occasionally adding, "Slimmer than the fat cigarette men smoke. With rich Virginia flavor women like," as the only copy. Ads featured many variations of the "from yesterday to today" theme, sometimes substituting a quote ("There is no other purgatory but a woman" — Beaumont and Fletcher) and a comment ("Yes, but what a way to go") for the 1900's photograph. Other ads included "We make Virginia Slims especially for women because they are biologically superior to men" or "Virginia Slims would like to drop into the English language" featuring a change in some cliché(A woman's home is her castle).
One group of ads appeared in 1971 with the headline, "You've come along way, baby . . . with fashions by David Crystal and with your own slim cigarette — Virginia Slims. " Copy included complete descriptions and prices of the fashion items. Although the illustrations did not show the model either smoking or holding any cigarettes, the Virginia Slims packs were displayed in the lower right corner of the ads.
A choker offer was made by Virginia Slims in 1971. Consumers could purchase a 24K gold-plated mesh collar and one snap-on stone for $3.00 and two Virginia Slims panels. Each additional stone was priced at $1.25.
Virginia Slims also made an engagement calendar offer in 1971. The calendar, with specially noted dates significant in women's history, was free for two Virginia Slims panels.
Sales reached 3.61 billion units in 1972 and although the style's total market share rose to 0.7%, its share of the non-menthol filter segment remained 1.2%.
Expenditures for the non-menthol style were $2.4 million with over 80% allocated to magazines. CPM for Virginia Slims Filter 100's in 1972 was $.66.
Virginia Slims' advertising during 1972 was unchanged with the exception that in each ad, the designer of the model's outfit was identified.
The "Virginia Slims Book of Days Calendar" offer was repeated in 1972. The book was again free, but instead of being free for two Virginia Slims panels, it was free for ten Virginia Slims panels.
Virginia Slims also offered a make-up brush set, valued at $2.50 for 50^ and two empty packs in 1972.