Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

Virginia Slims ad (1984), "theory of slimness," encouraged women to smoke to stay thin. Image Source: Stanford University.

A news item from June 2012 reported that cancer deaths were on the rise among Baby Boomer women, particularly in the southern United States. The cause was the successful Virginia Slims marketing campaign, which equated long slim cigarettes with women's liberation in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s:
a recent study published on June 25 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology says that lung cancer deaths are "steady or rising" among middle-aged women who live in the South or Midwest.

What could be the cause of such a dramatic, unexpected spike? The researchers of this study point to two factors: a cultural shift in the 1960s-70s, and different geographical attitudes regarding anti-smoking legislation.

"In the 60s and 70s, there was a sharp increase in the number of girls, not boys, who started to smoke," said Ahmedin Jemal in an interview with USNews.com's HealthDay. Jemal is vice president of surveillance research for the American Cancer Society and the lead author of this study. "These women are now in their 50s, and already we're seeing a sharp rise in deaths from lung cancer in this group."

A generation of women reached late adolescence and their early 20s at a time when women's empowerment was on the rise, according to HealthDay. A 1968 cigarette campaign tied to that cultural shift, "You've come a long way, baby," marketed Virginia Slims to teenage girls and young women.

According to Reuters, the study is based on data for more than one million U.S. white women aged 35 to 84, who died of lung cancer between 1973 and 2007.
Virginia Slims women's cigarettes were developed in 1968 by Philip Morris. But it was the brilliant and insidious women's lib marketing by the Leo Burnett advertising agency that made the brand a household name.

An introductory Virginia Slims ad from 1968 looking back a 1915 wife, busted for smoking. Image Source: pinterest.

Virginia Slims ad (1969), "first, you got the vote, and now you've got a cigarette all your own." Image Source: etsy.

"Someday" (1970). Image Source: Fortune City.

Virginia Slims ad (1971), Superwomen, "biologically superior to men." Image Source: eBay.

Virginia Slims ad (1972-1973), "slimmer to fit you." Image Source: pinterest.

Leo Burnett is the same Chicago-based agency that handles Fiat, Samsung, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg's, Coca-Cola, GM, McDonald's and Pfizer (makers of ChapStick, XanaxLipitor ("the world's best-selling drug of all time, with more than $125 billion in sales over approximately 14.5 years"), Zoloft, Viagra and the occasional genetically-modified virus). Wiki:
From inception, Virginia Slims have been designed and marketed as a female-oriented fashion brand, generally targeted towards a younger demographic (18–35 year olds). While various themes have emerged in the marketing campaigns over the years, the basic threads have been independence, liberation, slimness, attractiveness, glamour, style, taste, and a contrast to men's cigarettes. A report by the Surgeon General of the United States has interpreted these marketing strategies as attempting to link smoking "to women's freedom, emancipation, and empowerment." This report also tied the increase of smoking among teenage girls to rises in sales of Virginia Slims and other "niche" brands marketed directly to women.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the themes of feminism and women's liberation, with the slogan "You've Come A Long Way, Baby" were often used in the ads, and often featured anecdotes about women in the early 20th century who were punished for being caught smoking, usually by their husbands or other men, as compared to the time of the ads when more women had equal rights, usually comparing smoking to things like the right to vote.
The genius of the firm's Virginia Slims ads lay in the way they paved the way for inverted feminine thinking about the emancipation of women while female consumers simultaneously became enslaved by cigarettes, tobacco and nicotine. The Virginia Slims ads were the opening chapter in an incredible narrative. The ads' reverse mindthink was the real innovation, such that now empowerment and liberation can be ironically and cynically reversed in Millennial ads for nicotine cessation aids and electronic cigarettes.

Nowadays, a woman could be liberated, but all that's taken as read, water under the bridge, no longer an issue. This allows Millennial ad makers to return to oversexualized feminine ads targeting men and women, which trumpet empowerment through base self-indulgence. By the 2010s, the message was not women's freedom in society using the cigarette as a phallic symbol of strength, but libertine freedom to manage addiction in an eco-friendly way.

Virginia Slims ad with Cheryl Tiegs and a tool chest offer (1974). Image Source: Found in Mom's Basement.

Image Source: CDC.
Nevertheless, in this post-post-feminist world, the classic women's lib message is still jumbled in there, too. In 2013, CBS reported a coming cancer care crisis for Baby Boomers, with projected shortages of oncologists and huge amounts of money diverted toward cancer drug development. The Boomer health crisis is a driving force behind medical tourism to countries with socialized health care; and it is behind the enormous current political pressure for free and subsidized health care in the United States. In May 2014, the FDA accelerated the approval of a new lung cancer drug, Zykadia, produced by Novartis. Lung cancer drugs offer identical messages about professional women's power and freedom to choose their destinies.

Image Source: Cigarettes Guide.

New clichés for the English language. Image Source: pinterest.

See more Virginia Slims ads, and evolving commercials from the tobacco industry, smoking cessation aid companies, e cigarette businesses, and lung cancer drug firms, below the jump.

Vintage Virginia Slims television ad. Video Source: Youtube.

Erin Gray in an ad from 1979. Image Source: Garage Sale Finds.

Virginia Slims ad (1985). "In targeting black women, tobacco companies often portray an image of a strong, independent black woman. Increasingly, in the 1960s and 1970s, models wearing 'naturals' or Afros began popping up in ads for Newport, L&M, Kent, Kool, and many more. ... A Virginia Slims campaign from roughly the same time used the slogan 'Find Your Voice' coupled with images of strong African women. For example, an ad from the campaign in 2000 features a woman in traditional clothing, balancing bolts of fabric on her head. The text beside her, half in Swahili, reads,'Kila mtu ana uzuri wake - No single institution owns the copyright for BEAUTY.' In this way, Virginia Slims portrays an image of accepting diverse standards of beauty." Image Source: Stanford University.

Introduced to racquet sports. Image Source: Ads Past.

"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." Image Source: Cigarettes Guide.

Carol Alt Virginia Slims ad (mid 1980s). Image Source: Reocities.

"Palmistry" (1987). Image Source: pinterest.

"What women's bank accounts looked like in 1957" (1991). Image Source: Stanford University. 

Virginia Slims ad (1990s?), "Ever wonder where we'd be if history had been herstory?" Image Source: University of Toronto.
Millennial ads for the lung cancer drug Zykadia ironically carry similar messages of strength, empowerment and independence. The same goes for smoking cessation aids, bringing nicotine consumers full circle on a long time loop of addiction, healing, and a return to addiction. The relationship with the past in these commercials has changed over time; in the Virginia Slims ads, the past was a backward time which needed to be overcome. In Millennial ads, past themes hearken back to the glory days of the cigarette, and offer a past to be simultaneously rejected and rejuvenated. Remember when people smoked and it was cool? We can return to those innocent happy days with the electronic cigarette of the 2010s, which grew out of smoking cessation aids such as the Nicorette Inhalator of the 2000s.

Nicorette Inhalator smoking cessation aid is also a nicotine delivery system, allowing addiction to the drug to continue under the banner of quitting cigarettes (pre 2010). These ads feature reduxes of famous Hollywood films, replacing the mid-20th century smokers with Millennial actors using the Inhalator. The retro themes repeated in the seamless transition from Inhalator to e cigarettes. Video Source: Youtube.

Nicoderm smoking cessation aid ad (pre 2011) plays with female professionalism, crazy feminine weakness, and regaining personal control of addiction. Video Source: Youtube.

Nicorette patch ad (pre 2012). Video Source: Youtube.

Nicorette Microtab commercial (pre 2013): control your urges by buying more tobacco from the tobacco industry. Video Source: Youtube.

Smoking cessation aid Nicorette Quick Mist ad features a woman sucking on a long thin straw reminiscent of a long slim cigarette. Video Source: Youtube.

Follow the trail of breadcrumbs from the 2000s with smoking cessation aids to the development in the 2010s of electronic cigarettes, which sell women newfound freedom, not from men, but from smoking bans: find out how Megan can smoke anywhere, endorsed by CNN, Scientific American, MSNBC, and USNews (unknown publisher: 2013). Note the 'no smoking' sign in the background. Image Source: Stanford University.

BLU electronic cigarette ad (2014), tosses aside women's lib rhetoric and channels the independent, freedom-loving language of sexy, Millennial electronic gadgets: "Slim. Charged. Ready to go." Image Source: Truth in Advertising.

VIP electronic cigarette ad (2013). Video Source: Youtube.

BLU Premier e cigarette ad (2011). Image Source: 4VF.

BLU e cigarettes (2013), "freedom never goes out of fashion." Image Source: Stanford University.

BLU e cigarettes (2013), "Filthy Stinking Rich." Image Source: Stanford University.

BLU electronic cigarettes (2014), "freedom to smoke when you want, where you want." From Gen Xer Jenny McCarthy, who is also a big anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist/activist. Video Source: Youtube.
Caption for the above video: "The growing popularity of e-cigarettes has led its manufacturers to leave no stone unturnedin marketing to consumers. Taking a page out of the tobacco advertising playbook used in the mid 20th century, e-cigarette (eCig) manufacturers are using celebrity endorsements to drum up enthusiasm for their products and hook teenagers. With celebrities endorsing eCigs, billed as the 'healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes,' smoking or in this case vaping of eCigs has become a fashion statement once again.

As there are no marketing restrictions on eCigs, slick television ads of celebrities puffing away on their personal vaporizers frequently bombard the airwaves. In Blu's campaign, Stephen Dorff and Jenny McCarthy urge people to take back their independence with the slogan 'Rise from the Ashes.' The Blu ads featuring Dorff are so popular that he has become synonymous with the brand. In a recent interview, he said that people come up to him all the time and ask about the Blu e-cigarette. 'I'm like the Blu man group,' Dorff said in the interview. In the ad featuring McCarthy, black and white shots of her exhaling smoke, highlight the blue tip of Blu eCigs and make the entire experience look cool. In the ad, she goes on to say the best part of her e-cigarette is that she can use it 'without scaring that special someone away' and can avoid kisses that 'taste like an ashtray' when she's out at her favorite club. Ads for eCig manufacturer NJOY feature rocker Courtney Love, in an expletive-laced ad, in which supporters of indoor smoking bans are portrayed as 'stuffy' and 'stuck-up,' while the rocker is portrayed as free-spirited and independent. eCig companies have even photoshopped ysteryear celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, John Lennon using their products in ads."

Report: Freedom to smoke / vape e cigarettes while pregnant (2013); get the OK from a man in a garage with a stethoscope over his shoulders. Video Source: Youtube.

FIN electronic cigarettes ad campaign (2011-2013), "rewrite the rules." Many Millennial nicotine ads use retro styles nostalgically recalling the heyday of cigarettes. Images Source: The Denver Egotist, the Marketing Blog, Stanford University and ispot.

FIN electronic cigarettes use retro themes (2013-2014), "to the pursuit of happiness, to independence, to freedom of choice, to equality." Video Source: FIN via Youtube.

TRYST Electronic Smoking Products (mid 2010s), "A gentleman always lights a lady's cigarette. But what if it's electronic? Well, he can still open the door for Lola - she's 100% woman. Daddy nicknamed her 'Slim,' and that's how she likes her smokes - hence her choosing the TRYST electronic Shisha. ... By the way, though Lola always appreciates the old-fashioned ways, a gent should be careful not to tell her what to do, lady or not." Image Source: Stanford University.

Caption for the above image, about TRYST: "TRYST introduces an exquisite collection of 5 Electronic Smoking Products available in 30 unique flavors, proprietary to the TRYST Group, celebrating the 'good ol days' of 1940s Americana. It was an extraordinary era that will forever be etched in American History, a time when a wave of unprecedented patriotism and euphoria swept the country. During WWII the pin-up girl served as a symbol of hope and dreams to every weary soldier. When the wars ended, the pin-up girl became an American icon of freedom and self-expression that is still regarded today as one of the most enduring art forms in the USA. Each collection reflects a pin-up girl persona to allow one to escape into the 1940s nostalgia while enjoying a TRYST.
Reflective of TRYST’s salute to the empowered woman, all modern retro pin-up art was designed by London based artist Fiona Stephenson. Fiona frequently contributes to the world renowned Playboy Enterprises, Inc. through vintage-themed Bunny artwork that pays homage to the brand's heritage. She takes her inspiration from the classic 40's and 50's Pin-up artists like Gil Elvgren and George Petty. Revel in a renewal of American tradition with the allure of TRYST."

Eversmoke e cigarettes (2013) are 'green' and support anti-breast cancer campaigns. Images Sources: Stanford University, Smokeless Cigarette Deals, and ECigAfrica.

Zykadia lung cancer drug ads (2014) send a message of professionalism and empowerment. Images Source: Zykadia.


  1. It's fascinating to see the sophisticated psyop used by Virginia Slims to the detriment of women's health.
    Suggesting that a cigarette smoked 40 yrs ago is the cause of rising cancer rates among women today is similar to the bogus implications of the advertising featured here. Fewer women smoke cigarettes today than in the past 70 or 80 years yet cancer rates continue to rise. Links to such a Slim causal connection are likely to obscure discovery of real contributors to rising cancer rates today. If the cigarette paper in Virginia Slims was made of asbestos, or the filters were made of depleted uranium we might be looking at something causal. Those kind of ingredients keep on giving and can have negative health effects decades later. Tobacco on the other hand, decreases it's deleterious effects over time. Were we to find that not to be the case, then the joke is on us for ever having quit smoking. We should be partying like its 1969.

  2. Amazingly enough, I started smoking in 1963, I was VERY intrigued by the Virginia Slims ads on TV in the late 60's, then in the magazines until several years ago, but I didn't actually switch to Virginia Slims (I smoke the Gold 120's) until 2000. Which I did because I wanted the extra length, not because they were "girly"; they're almost the same damn cigarette that Benson & Hedges Premiums are, which I switched from. Lately, I've been using the E-Cig (Blu Premium 100), to try to cut back on my smoking, but so far, without much success.

    1. Thank you for your comment Hildegard. I hope you have luck quitting.

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