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How Victoria's Secret has already won the "Body" battle

Updated on November 17, 2014
The Body by Victoria collection can be found in current Victoria's Secret Catalogues.
The Body by Victoria collection can be found in current Victoria's Secret Catalogues. | Source

Victoria's Secret is no stranger to controversy. Usually, the lingerie store upsets mall shoppers and television viewers with images of their models wearing sexy lingerie.

This time, the lingerie is being ignored and it is the models and the words used drawing ire.

Three college students were so upset with the Victoria's Secret latest campaign for the Body by Victoria bra collection that they started a petition for an apology and a Twitter campaign to support it. The store's campaign featured the company's models lined up, each wearing a different style of the bra. The style each model was wearing was printed under her feet. Across the models, the large print read, "The Perfect 'Body.'" Just below, in smaller print, it read, "Perfect Fit. Perfect Comfort. Perfectly Soft."

The students saw the models and the large print, and thought the company was telling young women that these models were what they had to look like to be perfect.

And, perhaps the "secret" is that is exactly what the company wanted to happen. These students got the media talking about Victoria's Secret. They got people talking about Victoria's Secret. They got people posting about Victoria's Secret.

All of this free publicity just before the holiday shopping season.

Holiday Earnings

Victoria's Secret is the top sales producer for L Brands Inc. According to Market Watch, the retail industry has been seeing a decline in store traffic, yet L Brands is thriving. In fact, in August, L Brands expected earnings to be on the high end of their projections for the year.

Last winter, though, L Brands had a disappointing holiday season. The company certainly does not want to repeat.

Getting Social

Victoria's Secret does have social media accounts, but at least on the king of social media, Facebook, promotional posts are less likely to be seen, unless it is an ad. However, all forms of social media highlight trending or popular posts. Controversies are one way to get trending.

A Google search of "Victoria's Secret Perfect Body" produced 35,200 news results on Nov. 15. Articles appeared on all sorts of websites, including the major news networks' websites, Huffington Post, Business Insider, BuzzFeed and on news sites in the UK, where the controversy started. Some reported what happened, others were opinion pieces on the controversy.

That's a lot of ways for social media users to share, comment and provide free advertising.

On one of my friends' posts about the controversy, someone commented that she checked out the website. One of the most important things in retail is getting the customer in the door, and she is just one of the people who did just that thanks to what was shared on social media.

What welcomes possible customers to the website? Holiday items and deals.

While this person said she did not purchase anything, it's possible others did see something they liked and pulled out their credit card or sent a "hint" to their spouse or significant other.


The Fashion Show

Not only are the holidays coming up, but so is Victoria's Secret biggest advertisement for holiday items, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. The annual fashion show will air on CBS on Dec. 9, and the company is already revealing details to fans, customers and those curious by-standers.

This controversy could end up reminding loyal customers (called Angels, just like the models) about the show, as well as draw in new viewers.

While viewership was up slightly last year, it wasn't the biggest show of the night, according to Nielsen TV Ratings Data. It also wasn't Victoria's Secret's biggest show, but was the company's fourth best fashion show, television viewership-wise. They could do better, and likely want to.

But, viewers are not the only measurement for a show's success nowadays. Trending on social media is also a huge indicator of a successful program.

It wouldn't be surprising if people tuned in to see and then skinny-shame the models on social media (hijacking the show's hashtags, of course), ironically helping Victoria's Secret with its viewership and trending goals.

Victoria's Secret is not commenting or explaining anything, so all we can do is speculate. It could have been just another of their plays on the word "body" that the company has been using to sell the bra since 2010. There could have been no intentions of becoming this big of a deal. The change to a new slogan could also have been planned all along, as there are two different slogans in the current Victoria's Secret Catalogues,

Whether controversy was the plan or not, I doubt the executives are shaking. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they are grinning from ear to ear.

© 2014 Samantha Sinclair


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