“You’ve come a long way, baby” was the appealing slogan for a new, slimmer cigarette brand manufactured by the leading Phillip Morris Company and advertised especially to women smokers. The campaign, created by the famous Leo Burnett Agency, was extremely successful, both in commercial and cultural terms, turning into a national catch-phrase.
The campaign attracted the growing feminist awareness and the increase of “the New Woman,” a woman who was independent and enthusiastic to show her self-confidence. On top of that, images in the advertisements associated this lively confidence with U.S. women’s history in contrasting the liberty and glamour of modern-day woman with the repression that women in the past had suffered.
Philip Morris sold a great number of their Virginia Super Slims cigarette packages so already by 1974 they could easily afford to hire super models for their triumphant “You’ve come a long way, baby” advertising campaign. Cheryl Tiegs, Christine Farrare, and Erin Gray had their first Virginia Slims advertisements published June 1974, July 1975, and March 1979 respectively. Sassy Dani Minnick was depicted in a purple dress for her first Virginia Slims advertisement November 1981. Kelly Emberg, Carol Alt, and Rosie Vela also modeled for Virginia Slims. None of these gorgeous ladies were recognized on any of the Virginia Slims ad, but each was recognized by her fans.
Phillip Morris acknowledged that Virginia Slims brand is the main key to company’s success. Contrasting the brand with other women’s cigarette brands made by Philip Morris competitors, as for instance “Eve” and “Satin” Phillip Morris stated the Virginia Slims brand was “feminine but non-threatening. The women were women who could make their own choices and who had not lost their femininity.
The beautiful women who modeled for Virginia Slims weren’t always profitable in launching new line extensions. Virginia Slims Ovals were unsuccessfully test promoted in Rochester, Las Vegas, and Birmingham in June 1984. One more short lived idea was to arrange Virginia Slims 10 Pack.
In October 1975 Philip Morris was the first producer to extend the 120mm length to a major brand. Virginia Slims 120’s were advertised in Fresno, California, and consequently removed when sales were unable to meet objectives. It wasn’t until 1985 that super long Virginia Slims Lights 120’s became acceptable. One Virginia Slims line extension introduced in the late 1980s was approved by women, but disapproved by a competing producer.
Philip Morris introduced Super Slims from Virginia Slims beginning October 1989.