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USA: getting it wrong with women

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It is strangely reassuring how even the biggest tobacco companies, able to hire the most sophisticated advertising and marketing skills in the world, continue to make mistakes. Philip Morris (PM) started the year with a comforting reminder of how even the biggest of all can make blunders, when it launched the latest round of ads for Virginia Slims.

This is the brand aimed at “young adult female smokers”, as its advertisers would probably say, or girls, as cynical health experts might prefer to describe the target audience. Virginia Slims advertisements have irritated feminists and health advocates alike since the earliest ads informed women, whom they addressed as “Baby”, that they had “come a long way”. Whereas it had been taboo for their mothers' generation to smoke, …

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