Targeted Marketing

In an effort to attract the consumption dollars of certain demographics, cigarette manufacturers are notorious for the creation of targeting marketing/advertising campaigns aimed towards specific gender, age, and racial groups. Using specialized themes, images, and slogans, Big Tobacco effectively connects with a wide range of consumers, who smoke cigarettes for a variety of reasons.


After realizing the importance of the youth consumer, competing tobacco corporations have directed substantial advertising dollars towards campaigns that pique the interest of adolescents. Using images that communicate “independence, freedom, and sometimes peer acceptance,”[1] cigarette advertisement campaigns geared towards children are important towards attracting and maintaining customers from an early age. Industry data and market research have proven that once smokers settle on a first choice, “most smokers do not change brands.”[2] Regulation has since restricted cigarette marketing to youth, but there have nonetheless been a number of memorable ad campaigns that likely had an impact on the psyche of young consumers. R.J. Reynold’s “Joe Camel” and Altria’s “Marlboro Man” have both featured themes and images that resonated with younger populations. Due to a lawsuit claiming that Joe Camel wrongfully marketed harmful cigarettes to young consumers, R.J. Reynolds was forced to withdraw its popular campaign in 1997. Instead, “Marlboro is the leading choice of teens,”[3] and is used by 48% of this age group.


Introduced in 1968 by Philip Morris, the Virginia Slims cigarettes are an iconic brand focused exclusively on female consumers. The brand incorporated notable slogans such as “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby,” and focused on themes and value that were important to the women (weight control, liberty, beauty, independence). To further build up the popularity of the Virginia Slims brand, the brand strategically sponsored professional women’s tennis tournaments.

1968 Virginia Slims Cigarette Advertisement

1968 Virginia Slims Cigarette Advertisement

* Since 1998, “the average youth in the United States is annually exposed to 559 tobacco ads, every adult female 617 advertisements, and every African American adult, 892 ads.”[4]

[1][2][3] National Cancer Institute. The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use. N.p.: CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2012. Print.

[4] “Tobacco Industry Marketing.” American Lung Association. N.p., n.d. Web. <>.

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