Victoria's Secret and A Body for "NOT" Every Body!

Hello, Hello Hello!

NOTE: Sorry lovely people! There is a blooper in the video 📹 😳 in one place I've fumbled and said Victoria and Secret. It is Victoria's Secret. I am sorry about it but this correction to the name of the brand is very important. Thank you, Amit.

The Challenge

Victoria's Secret is overriding its existing unique brand personality. Which essentially is A Body For Every Body. Remember, they changed the tagline to seem more inclusive not so long ago.

The Verdict

It is pretty obvious the brand's culture needs to evolve to better communicate to the modern consumer that is highly diverse and sensitive to discriminatory language. Plus, The brand doesn’t seem to budge from its ideology on femininity and gender roles? I feel like the brand as well as the whole concept of the Victoria's Secret show is heavily outdated. Replacing the CEO isn’t the question here. I'm not even sure if the VS CEO resigned because of this controversy or for poor performance. Irrespective, VS could be more proactive than a reactive brand. By excluding body diversity and transwomen, VS is calling hypocrisy it's best friend.

The Solution

As a diversity coach, I help organizations to become proactive. How do I do it? Well to stop a bad situation from becoming worse, I cannot even emphasize the need for taking action at an early stage of its development. As a diversity coach, I always profess to nip the issue in the bud. Diversity is always a top-down approach. It percolates from the top of the pyramid to the bottom rung. 

Many leaders also don’t buy-in to diversity and inclusion. They merely show support half-heartedly while in their heads, diversity means nothing or just an external mandate. 

That is the bud that must be nipped. We need to change the mindset to condition change in the culture. To enable inclusive communication and diversity of thought to flourish and bring change regardless of outside influences and culturally transmitted prejudices.

Credit: ThirdLove Instagram

Taking a leaf from Victoria's Secret’s controversy, it is imperative that leaders who are the face of the company must be able to convey inclusion in their language. It doesn’t mean they have to be politically correct all the time but they must refrain from using discriminatory language and perceive groups that lack representation with a lens of exclusion. 

VS has some serious competition in the lingerie space. Brands like ThirdLove and Savage x Fenty recognize the importance inclusion plays in their bottom line.

Some nuggets for VS leadership to reposition their communication:

Don't say anything that sounds disingenuous as well as stereotypical. 

In hindsight, always avoid focussing on drawing external validation.

Don’t get stuck to literal messaging.

Bring the diversity of thought on the drawing board before your idea becomes a campaign and before your words convey exclusion.

Remember misrepresentation is not misinterpretation.

“A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.” - David Ogilvy, the modern Father of Advertising, once shared this great quote. It cannot be more relevant in today's hypersensitive, politically correct landscape.

Challenge the conformity by being self-aware. Reading through a script is perfection and perfection is boring.

If you are closed to the thought of inclusion then do some good. Engage employees and customers through a cross-section of not-for-profit collaborations and embracing the values of volunteerism and philanthropy. When you do good, it becomes a belief. And, belief becomes the new mindset.

Don't buy into the argument that Victoria's Secret is only for real women. What do you know about real women? Selling lingerie does not qualify you to become an expert on gender norms.

-Amit Anand