On a recent visit to my neighborhood Griffin’s gas station on Highway 301 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, I spotted a uniquely-shaped box of cigarettes in the Virginia Slims section. Non-plussed, I forgot about it until I fortuitously received an elegant mailer from Phillip Morris, announcing the arrival of the latest addition to the family of Virginia Slims. Cigarette mailers arrive in some of the most elaborate designs and exquisite materials I have ever received in my mailbox–what insidious ingenuity in my cancer-causing carbon monoxide sticks!
Enticed by the mailer’s coupons, I immediately redeemed them on two Virginia Slims Superslims Purse Packs, one regular and one menthol. Typically a two-for-one pack kind of smoker (one who takes the two-for-one deal, regardless of brand), I bought the Superslims only because I had manufacturer’s coupons. Brand loyalty is like free agency; I go where the best deal awaits!
Regardless of my promiscuous approach to the cheap and easy pack, Virginia Slims of any kind are chick smokes and walking up to the counter to purchase a couple packs felt just plain awkward. In particular, the push behind the Purse Packs is completely sexist, so it felt especially denigrating to request these shimmery mauve and chartreuse containers. But what’s an addict to do, when any brand will do? Buy it!
The Virginia Slims Superslims Purse Pack cigarettes have been rolled so tightly they resemble lollipop sticks more than they do cigarettes. This anorexic design allows for the 20 Class A cigarettes to fit snugly into newly-constructed boxes that are less than half the width of a normal box of cigarettes. These Superslims maintain the taller height of the regular Virginia Slims predecessors, as well as the signature elegance and soft detail that clearly aim these smoking products at the female target market.
I just don’t see anything “class A” about an anorexic lollipop stick cigarette! And what does this suggest about the target market? Do female smokers resemble anorexic lollipop sticks? Maybe, but I’m not hot on the idea of inadvertently validating that connection! It just seems to me that plenty of marketers are doing a little too much steering of our preferences, even before we are aware of them; however, I suppose that is the nature of marketing in the twenty-first century!
All in all, sucking on a straw buried in frozen ice cream takes less blue-faced effort than trying to draw a decent, hazy drag from a Purse Pack puff. Yet, that just comes with being a chain-smoking nicotine addict–we buy what we can afford, and we bum the rest. Personally, I think I will stick to the Virginia Blends.