Why Victoria’s Secret Rebranding Campaign Is Laced With Criticism

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Victoria’s Secret
Image credit: NurPhoto | Getty Images

The American lingerie company has finally decided to focus on what women want instead of what men want and launched a campaign to empower women. What’s wrong with that?

Brands today have become so much more than just selling their products and increasing sales. It’s also who they are and what they believe in. Most brands today are also doing business for a specific social cause. Sure they are doing it to build a brand image and goodwill but they are doing it so well because they actually believe in the cause. That is what has caused customers to stay with the brand. 

Take Nike as an example. Its brand image has always been one about encouraging people to take risks for things they want to achieve. It has endorsed taking up challenges, being courageous, powerful and determined towards achieving goals. Very recently, during the Black Lives Matter protest in America, Nike took a stand and went totally against its own tagline “Just Do It” by urging people to ‘not do it just this one time’. 

A risky and bold move, it still garnered immense support because the thought behind the brand’s campaign came across as genuine. 

However, nothing of that sort has happened for Victoria’s Secret. Here is why: 

Since the brand’s inception, it has promoted women’s unrealistic body types. Victoria’s Secret has been perpetuating since forever, that the only kind of body that is ‘sexy’ is the one that is sleek, lean and curvey. This has impacted the lives of many women across the world giving rise to identity crisis and body dysmorphia. The brand only catered to women with a desirable body type sending across a message that only those with a perfect sexy body deserved to wear Victoria’s secret. What is even more disturbing is that instead of associating women’s comfort with lingeries, satisfying the sexual fantasies of men was given importance. The brand, thus, has been standing for what men want and not what women really want. Besides, the ads of Victoria’s Secret objectify women as sexual objects. Being a woman, it’s irksome and pretty disgusting to watch their ad beyond 5 seconds. 

While the recent plan of revamping the brand with the idea of finally focusing on what women want is good, it still comes across as ingenuine. For one, the brand is too late in jumping into the bandwagon of women empowerment when most of the brands have been doing it for far too long now. Secondly, Victoria’s Secret has failed miserably in laying the basic groundwork for launching its rebranding campaign. Although it wishes to become ‘the world’s leading advocate for women’, its actions still don’t seem to be taking shape in that direction. The brand still manufactures only a limited size range of women’s lingerie, completely ignoring the larger sizes. When questioned by the media about this, the company’s marketing officer said that it is ‘likely to lean over considering manufacturing larger sizes’. Further, the sales of the company have only plunged down since 2015 and its shares have taken a huge hit. Therefore, this rebranding campaign only looks like a desperate attempt to save a sinking ship.  

Besides how can you trust a brand overnight, who has for many years been alleged of having a connection with Jefferey Epstein, a convicted sex offender. Although he didn’t work for the company, he surely had close connections with Victoria’s Secret parent company the L Brands’ head, Leslie Wexner. Media reports also state that Epstein was posing as a modelling recruiter of Victoria’s Secret during which multiple cases of sex abuse took place. Although this was reported to the concerned authorities at the company, no appropriate action was taken to put an end to it. 

Another thing that hasn’t worked for the brand is the bringing of new ambassadors onboard like US soccer player Megan Rapinoe, transgender model Valentina Sampaio, model and South Sudanese refugee Adut Akech, and actress Priyanka Chopra among a few. The motive behind these choices was to bring to the forefront women who drive a positive change in society and redefine the meaning of the word ‘sexy’. To make way for these new appointments which the brand has decided to call a ‘VS Collective’, the models which were used by the brand for years, Victoria’s Secret ‘Angels’, have been sidestepped. What kind of female empowerment supports the shunting of one group of women for the other? So much for getting women empowerment right.  

Victoria’s Secret, in spite of being a global brand, has failed to get the most basic things right. How can it expect people to believe in the company’s cause when for years it’s been stereotyping women and portraying them as sexual objects. In order for people to believe in the campaign, the company needs to look genuine in its cause. In addition to this, the campaign’s goal needs to be in line with the organization’s overall goal. The words and actions of the company don’t seem to match. Whether this rebranding works in favour of the company or not, only time can tell.

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