We all remember the Victoria’s Secret lingerie shows that took place year after year: celebrities, the world’s most highly-paid models, angels, and their wings. All models were dying to be selected to walk the fashion show as it catapulted their career to the next level, but something changed. During the last show, the audience ratings dropped to a historical low. Why? Years of normative bodies and sexualities had culminated in a crisis of values that millions of women and models around the world went on to highlight. This generated several public relations crises that meant the brand, growing less and less relevant alongside more value-aligned competitors, was left with little choice but to change its strategy, or allow the value of their shares to continue plummeting.
What has the brand done to not die trying? Keep reading.
The angels have taken a 180 degree turn to adapt to modern times. The brand is committed to reinventing itself by changing its strategy and hiring several very relevant women in today’s sphere so that, instead of being models, they act as speakers for the cause: the body positivity movement. This movement aims to challenge how society sees the body by promoting their unconditional acceptance.
The Victoria’s Secret Angels have hung up their wings and come down to earth.
Given all this, Victoria’s Secret Angels now include models like Adut Akech, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and has already worked as a model for brands such as Yves Saint Laurent. Amanda de Cadenet was also chosen, she is a founder of the Girlgaze platform and an activist for gender equality. Olympic skier Eileen Gu and FIFA’s top player Megan Rapinoe were athletes who formed part of the new line up. Model and activist Paloma Elsesser appeared alongside Priyanka Chopra, the actress and human rights defender. Finally, Valentina Sampaio made history as the brand’s first trans model.
Olympic skier Eileen Gu and FIFA’s top player Megan Rapinoe were athletes who formed part of the new line up. Model and activist Paloma Elsesser appeared alongside Priyanka Chopra, the actress and human rights defender. Finally, Valentina Sampaio made history as the brand’s first trans model.
Just what can the brand do to move even further away from the image that consumers have so internalized?
- Promote inclusivity and body positivity. In late 2018, then-chief marketing officer Ed Razek told Vogue that including plus-size and trans models didn’t fit the VS Fashion Show “fantasy”. With the new strategy, they have begun to include models with non-normative bodies and their first transgender model in their campaigns.
- Intensify crisis management. Following accusations by more than 100 VS models about its past relationship with Jeffrey Epstein (a tycoon accused of child abuse), the brand remained silent and did not manage the crisis. Currently, managing such a public relations crisis would be a no-brainer, but Leslie Wexner (CEO) has yet to release a statement.
- Focus on health and wellness over seduction. New Generation Z consumers have the perception that health and wellness is all about holistic balance. For this reason, VS should start to focus on this insight and connect with this new audience.
Brands are true agents of change, health and well-being, and as such VS has succeeded with its new branding strategy.
And you, what would you propose doing if you were the marketing director of Victoria’s Secret?
At Pointbleu, we look forward to hearing from you!