Date: 1995
Brand: Virginia Slims
Manufacturer: Philip Morris
Campaign: Women's Liberation
Theme: Targeting Women
Keywords: Woman, female, man, male, couple, dating, empowerment, liberation, humor, young adult, fashion
Quote: Lead the way? Yeaheven in 3-inch heels.

Comment: In this advertisement, a woman wears a little, slinky, spaghetti-strap mini dress and a pair of strappy gold heels. While she is glamorous and her outfit is feminine, her hair is cropped short, providing her with a masculine quality. She drags her boyfriend behind her, and she is clearly in control. The tagline, Lead the way? speaks to this sense of domination, and the retort, Yeah even in 3-inch heels demonstrates how the woman can be simultaneously dominant and sexy. The ad seeks to place a similar spin on the Virginia Slims cigarette: feminine with its long, thin shape, but masculine in its strength and the power that it provides its smoker. Ironically, the woman is not the most powerful entity in the advertisement. Instead, it is the cigarette, which holds the most forward position and is literally leading the woman by the hand as well, without her even realizing her subordination to the cigarette.





Women's Liberation

One of the most common techniques tobacco companies employ in order to target women is women s liberation. Specifically, these advertisements show a woman in a position of power over a man, while being careful to keep the power-play light, carefree, and a bit flirtatious. The ads are prudent, hoping not to offend anyone while appearing to take sides, so to speak, with women. Often, these ads distract from the position of power Big Tobacco itself holds over both sexes, by pitting women against men instead of against Big Tobacco.





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