Social media has become a true indicator of consumer experience. When a campaign is done right, social media can be an effective traffic-driver. But when a campaign goes wrong, social media gives consumers a powerful way to share their complaints about a brand. Such was the case with Victoria Secret’s recent “Perfect Body” campaign, and some in the industry say the brand missed a huge opportunity to reconnect with consumers.
The lingerie brand’s latest ad campaign sparked quite an outrage on social. The ad, which was designed to promote a new push-up bra called “Body,” featured a slew of supermodels with the slogan “The Perfect ‘Body.'” Use of the slogan triggered an angry reaction online, as many complained that it didn’t respect consumers of different body types.
“Victoria’s Secret turned a potential opportunity into a huge mess,” says Theresa Klebert, marketing and research specialist at SOCIALDEVIANT, a Chicago-based social media agency.
“The company needs to understand that their audience skews to a slightly younger female audience, the same audience that feels the increasing pressure of having the ‘perfect’ body. What this audience doesn’t want (or need) is a brand that critiques their body,” Klebert continues.
British students Frances Black, Gabriella Kountourides, and Laura Ferris even created a change.org petition to demand the lingerie company apologize for and amend the “irresponsible marketing.”
“We would like Victoria’s Secret to apologize and take responsibility for the unhealthy and damaging message that their ‘Perfect Body’ campaign sends out about women’s bodies and how they should be judged,” they wrote on change.org. “We would like Victoria’s Secret to change the wording on their advertisements for their bra range Body, to something that does not promote unhealthy and unrealistic standards of beauty, as well as pledge to not use such harmful marketing in the future.”
The three students also initiated a Twitter backlash to “The Perfect Body” campaign, with the hashtag #iamperfect. Lots of brands have jumped on the #iamperfect bandwagon. For example, Dove tweeted out its definition of “the perfect real body,” reimaging the campaign with women of different body types.
— Dove (@Dove) October 30, 2014
As of today, the petition has approximately 31,000 signatures. And it seems to have done the trick, as Victoria’s Secret quietly changed its online slogan to “A Body for Every Body.”
— Frances Black (@FrancesNoir) November 10, 2014
Commenting on Victoria’s Secret’s “The Perfect Body” campaign, Andy Beal, author of Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation, thinks that the backlash demonstrates how quickly a brand can lose touch with its target audience. “With the pervasiveness of social media, the lingerie company could have easily launched a campaign that resonated with its target customers,” he says. “Instead, that same audience is teaching the company a valuable lesson that it needs to change the way it portrays women in its advertising.”
SOCIALDEVIANT’s Klebert agrees with Beal. She notes that social media directly connects brands with consumers, so brands should be aware of who their audience is and what their consumers are looking for in their relationship with the brand.
Klebert suggests that the lingerie brand should have encouraged its fans to be part of the shoot to show that everyone has a “perfect” body, instead of just using supermodels as brand ambassadors.
What do you think? Was quietly changing its slogan enough or should the brand have reached out and apologized to offended consumers?
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