Victoria’s Secret Is Rebranding With New Spokeswomen Including Megan Rapinoe, And Some (Angel) Feathers Are Ruffled

Victoria’s Secret is shaking things up out of necessity. There’s no word, of course, whether they’ll still keep using Michael Bay to direct commercials, but expect changes that are in line with the brand’s other recent moves, including ditching clothing to focus almost exclusively on lingerie and sleepwear, and attempting to adjust to a world where shopping malls aren’t where the masses enjoy shopping anymore. That last detail was exacerbated by the pandemic, but the reality is that VS can’t seem to overcome its flagging sales while other lingerie brands (that have embraced different ideals, rather than mostly Angels in tiny thongs) start to flourish.

Enter a major rebranding. As the New York Times reports, the lingerie company has realized that they should market to the people who wear lingerie, since “Barbie bodies and playboy reverie” are no longer prompting the dollars to roll in. So, bye bye, supermodels in Angel wings, and hello to a new “Collective” of ambassadors (seen on the VS website) that include women (who happen to wear many sizes other than “sample” and rose in stature for their achievements) from many walks of life. Those ladies include soccer star Megan Rapinoe (someone at VS caught wind of her S:I swimsuit shoot) as well as actress/producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas, trans model Valentina Sampaio, and #Girlgaze digital platform founder Amanda de Cadenet.

From the NY Times:

They will be spearheading what may be the most extreme and unabashed attempt at a brand turnaround in recent memory: an effort to redefine the version of “sexy” that Victoria’s Secret represents (and sells) to the masses. For decades, Victoria’s Secret’s scantily clad supermodels with Jessica Rabbit curves epitomized a certain widely accepted stereotype of femininity. Now, with that kind of imagery out of step with the broader culture and Victoria’s Secret facing increased competition and internal turmoil, the company wants to become, its chief executive said, a leading global “advocate” for female empowerment.

As one might imagine, there are strong reactions to this move. On one side, some dudes are being very outspoken about feeling their feathers ruffled. Remarks like “Victoria’s Secret is finally attacking The Male Gaze” and “Nobody likes feminists… They’re the least appealing people on the planet” were probably to be expected.

Oh boy. Meanwhile, people had a ball watching these guys, basically “a bunch of straight white dudes” getting their panties in a bunch about Megan Rapinoe representing VS when they’re not the targeted customer. As some point out, that type of reaction is why ambassadors like Rapinoe will be valuable to the VS’ effort to rebrand while appealing to women who want to buy what they want to wear.

Overall, this appears to be a wise move from Victoria’s Secret, who might be shifting strategies too late, but if anything can save the company, it’s the novel strategy of appealing to their target customer: women.

(Via New York Times)