Virginia Slims: Brand History
Virginia Slims Menthol
1968 — 1971
Test marketed from July to August, 1968, in San Francisco, Virginia Slims Menthol 100's went into national distribution with Virginia Slims Filter 100's in September, 1968. The menthol style was packaged in white with green and gold stripes in various shades running vertically up the left side of the package face. "Virginia Slims" was printed in black in the lower half of the package with smaller copy such as "Menthol, Benson & Hedges", etc. in gold.
Initial sales for 1968 in the menthol style were 350 million units for a market share of 0.1%.
Expenditures for Virginia Slims Menthol 100's in 1968 were $848,000. Magazines were allocated 51% of this, television 26%, newspapers 13% and supplements 9%. CPM for 1968 was $2.00.
Most Virginia Slims advertising was shared between the regular and menthol styles. Ads compared yesterday's woman with today's. The basic theme of the Virginia Slims campaign seemed to revolve around, "You've come a long way, baby", which acted as a lead to the Virginia Slims' jingle in broadcast advertising and as a headline for the brand's print campaign. Copy described Virginia Slims as, "the slim cigarette for women . . . only. Tailored for the feminine hand . . . with rich mild Virginia flavor."
In Virginia Slims Menthol 100's first complete year in national distribution, sales reached 1.74 billion units for a market share of 0.3%, and 1.5% of the menthol segment,
The style's 1969 advertising budget was over $1.0 million. Magazines again received the major portion ($626,000), Network and spot television made up the only other medium used by Virginia Slims Menthol 100's in 1963 with $395,000. CPM for the year was $.59.
Advertising style, format and messages were basically unchanged throughout 1969.
Sales climbed to 2.02 billion units in 1970 as Virginia Slims Menthol 100's market share rose to 0.4% and its share of the menthol segment moved to 1.6%.
Advertising expenditures for 1970 were $1.1 million with nearly 80% of the budget allocated to magazines. Television was allocated another 19.8% with small allocations to newspapers and supplements. CPM for 1970 was $.46.
"The taste for today's woman" was added as a sub-head to Virginia Slims print advertisements. Commercials emphasized Virginia Slims as, "still the one cigarette for women only". Otherwise the campaign was again unchanged.
Virginia Slims sponsored a "New Year's Eve in Paris" Sweepstakes. Prizes included trips to Paris for 25 winning couples, party kits (cases of champagne, party hats and favors) for 100 second place winners, and 1,000 bottles of perfume for third place winners.
Sales reached 2.2 billion units in 1971. Although market share remained unchanged at 0.4%, Virginia Slims Menthol 100's share of the menthol segment rose to 1.7%.
Virginia Slims Menthol 100's 1971 budget was the largest in the style's history. The 1071 allocation for magazines alone ($1.68 million) was more than the entire style had ever been budgeted before. Supplements were also allocated more than ever before with $524,000.
Ads continued to use, "You've come a long way, baby," but occasionally added, "Slimmer than the fat cigarettes men smoke. With rich Virginia flavor women like," as the only copy. Ads featured variations of the "back in the old days to today" theme.
One group of ads appeared in 1971 with the headline, "You've come a long way, baby . . . with fashions by David Crystal and with your own slim cigarette Virginia Slims." Copy included complete descriptions and prices. Although the models shown were neither smoking nor did they hold a pack of Virginia Slims, the filter and menthol packages were displayed in the lower right corner of the ad.
A choker offer was made by Virginia Slims in 1971. A 24K gold plated mesh collar and one snap-on stone was available to consumers for $3.00 and two panels from Virginia Slims. Each additional stone was priced at $1.25.
An engagement calendar offer was also made in 1971 by Virginia Slims, The calendar, specifically noting significant dates in the history of women was free for 2 Virginia Slims bottom panels.
The mentholated style's sales rose to 2.57 billion units in 1972 for 0.5% of the total market and 1.9% of the mentholated filter segment.
Expenditures for Virginia Slims Menthol were near $2.53 million in 1972. Magazines accounted for $1.94 million with smaller allocations in newspapers, national supplements and outdoor advertising. CPM was $.98.
As in 1971, most Virginia Slims advertising in 1972 was shared by both styles.
The ads themselves were unchanged except that the designer of the model's outfit in each ad was identified in small print. Some ads specifically featuring Virginia Slims Menthol were noted in black publications during 1972. The ads used the same format as other Virginia Slims ads, but with the menthol package alone and the tag line, "The slimmer cigarette with the natural menthol women like."
The "Virginia Slims Book of Days Calendar" offer was repeated in 1972. The book was again free but for ten Virginia Slims panels (instead of two as in 1971).
Virginia Slims also offered a make-up brush set, valued at $2.50, for 50¢ and two empty packs in 1972.