Is Victoria’s Secret’s inclusivity messaging resonating?

Discussion
Source: Victoria’s Secret
Oct 13, 2022

Victoria’s Secret’s new campaign, “Undefinable,” builds on last year’s rebrand and marks a further step from its controversial 2014 campaign, “The Perfect Body.”

The new campaign stands out for featuring some supermodels but also a number of change-makers, including female professional athletes, country singer Brittney Spencer, and 80-year model and activist Bethann Hardison.

The messaging emphasizes a continued “commitment to listen and learn” while celebrating individuality and diversity in line with Victoria’s Secret’s updated vision to be the “world’s leading advocate for women.”

The campaign invites women to share “what makes them #Undefinable,” while women in the campaign share their past and present ideas of femininity.

“We are not here to dictate how to define beauty for anyone but instead we are here to celebrate how they define beauty on their own terms,” said Raúl Martinez, EVP, head creative director at Victoria’s Secret, in a statement.

In 2014, the lingerie chain caused a social media uproar for its “The Perfect Body” campaign which featured the slogan alongside images of supermodels, several with visible ribs. The brand changed the campaign’s tagline to “A Body for Every Body,” but sales began sliding in 2017 in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Despite last year’s overhaul that shifted the message to inclusivity, empowerment and comfort, some consumers complained about the changes. As a recent New York Times profile noted, Twitter responses included, “It is too ‘utilitarian.’ No one wants such boring underwear.”

On a quarterly call earlier this year, Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters said the chain initially saw a surge in negative reactions to the repositioning, although it was “principally from men” and not best spenders. Social media discussion has since become “overwhelmingly” positive.

Mr. Waters also noted that Victoria’s Secret still sells “provocative” merchandise, including an “unashamedly sexy” Valentine’s Day range backed by sexualized imagery.

“For us, it is about balance,” he said. “Rather than the brand Victoria’s Secret just being one thing, which is sexy, it’s about Victoria’s Secret, the brand being advocating for women in all aspects of their life, be that maternity, be that date night, being company at home, be it sport.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Victoria’s Secret’s “Undefinable” campaign strike the right chord? What further steps might be necessary for Victoria’s Secret to overcome its heritage and embrace inclusivity and female empowerment?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors and Victoria's Secret is going all in."
"I have questions about “becoming the world’s leading advocate for women” (come on!) but I’m willing to wait and see what they mean."
"Decades of positioning won’t be undone by a handful of campaigns (forced by the times), but rather a legacy of work pushing back against the deficit they helped promote."

Join the Discussion!

7 Comments on "Is Victoria’s Secret’s inclusivity messaging resonating?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Victoria’s Secret has started to step away from its less than inclusive past. We saw this with the launch of the Love Cloud line which featured a diverse and representative range of women and got back to focusing on product attributes rather than just on style and looks. However there is a lot more work to do in order to rebuild a brand that has become very tarnished by its history.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust

As a female, I would say yes. It not only resonates but it is empowering. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors and Victoria’s Secret is going all in. I don’t know what the revenue looks like across extended sizes or updated silhouettes but this is a step in the right direction. VS can’t change their past but they can definitely change the future.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

BRAVO! Welcome to the real world Victoria!

Evan Snively
BrainTrust

Further steps = time. Decades of positioning won’t be undone by a handful of campaigns (forced by the times), but rather a legacy of work pushing back against the deficit they helped promote.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

I appreciate that Victoria’s Secret has now fully committed to a brand turnaround — not that they had much of a choice in the matter. The video and image campaign is powerful. I have questions about “becoming the world’s leading advocate for women” (come on!) but I’m willing to wait and see what they mean. The logo is still a little triggering, but I appreciate that they’re owning their history and past mistakes rather than trying to erase it. It’s a marathon not a sprint for VS so we’ll see how they play their cards over time.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

The move to become more inclusive, empowering, and all-accepting is a positive and significant paradigm shift from the former Victoria’s Secret polarizing image. Consumers may not forget, but they may forgive Victoria’s Secret as the brand has taken on big steps to regain the trust and confidence of its diverse customer base. It will all come down to consistent messaging and execution to continue this transformation plan.

Rich Duprey
Guest

There is a fine line between acceptance of all body types and promoting unhealthy fitness levels. Just as fashion was rightly criticized for its “heroin chic” models years ago, retailers should also not go to the other extreme and promote obesity as desirable. As someone who is far from fit, I know my body is not healthy. It is not something that should be seen as not worth trying to improve upon. So-called “unattainable” bodies arguably should not be the rule in advertising, but neither should unhealthy body types be endorsed.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors and Victoria's Secret is going all in."
"I have questions about “becoming the world’s leading advocate for women” (come on!) but I’m willing to wait and see what they mean."
"Decades of positioning won’t be undone by a handful of campaigns (forced by the times), but rather a legacy of work pushing back against the deficit they helped promote."

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