Katherine Gracey and Jane Honeyman

#ImNoAngel.  Taking a direct swipe at your competition.  I’m unsure how effective this is as a marketing campaign and also for the validity of a brand.

Lane Bryant is a United States retail women’s clothing store chain focusing on plus-size clothing. The company started in 1904 with the innovative maternity designs created by Lena Himmelstein Bryant Malsin.  As of 2013, the chain consists of 812 stores in U.S. states.

Victoria’s Secret is the largest lingerie retailer in the United States.  The company sells lingerie, womenswear, and beauty products through its catalogs (sending out 375 million a year), website, and stores.  They also have a global presence through their store fronts.

There is a feuding history between Lane Bryant and Victoria’s Secret.  In 2010, Lane Bryant accused Fox and ABC of censoring their 30-second ad spot during commercial breaks for Dancing with the Stars and American Idol. The ads featured plus-sized model Ashley Graham in their new Cacique line of lingerie. Lane Bryant accused the two networks of bias and discrimination because they had no problem with airing Victoria’s Secret advertisements, with similarly clad models, in the same time slots.

So let’s move forward to 2015 and in their recent ad campaign, they took a direct swipe at Victoria’s Secret with the hashtag Im No Angel.

Take a look.

So why this tag line, why this brand message for Lane Bryant?  It was a play on Victoria’s Secret’s “Perfect Body” campaign which also hit the headlines for the wrong reason for using ultra thin models and criticized for promoting an unhealthy body image.  The hashtag aims to revitalise the flagging brand by cashing in on the growing body-positive movement following on from the Doves landmark “Real Beauty” campaign which attracted over 60 million views on You Tube.

Featured image

Social media formed a major part of their campaign.  In the digital age, one way to make a brand stand out from itself is to get social media traction.  By that measure, the #ImNoAngel campaign has certainly made traction.

Featured image

In one day, #ImNoAngel garnered 30,000 Facebook and Twitter mentions, 85% of them positive.  Twitter followers were growing 4% a day and activity was 80% women aged 25-44 (Hamburg Coplan, H, 2015).

But did they go too far? Sarah Wasilak of PopSugar wrote “We couldn’t help but wonder if they were poking a little too hard at the Victoria’s Secret models.  Yes, the VS Angels are slender, but each of them boasts her own unique body type, as do the gorgeous women in Lane Bryant’s ad. While we certainly agree that sexy is, without a doubt, a term with a broad definition, we feel as though this particular angle might come off as bullying.” (Moyer, J, 2015)

“Thin-shaming and fat-shaming are not separate, opposing issues—they are stratifications of the same issue: Patriarchal culture’s need to demoralize, distract, and pit women against one another,” Lindy West wrote in Jezebel in 2013. “To keep women shackled by shame and hunger. To keep us obsessing over our flaws rather than our power and potential. To get our money.” (Moyer, J, 2015)

So is Lane Byrant really about empowering women and trying to set a new standard or is just about selling products?

“Our campaign is designed to empower all women to love every part of herself,” one commenter wrote about “I’m No Angel” on a Fox News affiliate’s Web site. “Unless she’s skinny. Then we have to shame her for being skinny in order to empower other women.” (Moyer, J, 2015)

Does it work? Playing directly against your competition can have an excellent impact on your product launch and brand but it can also be a risk.  A brand may be perceived as boring and umimangitive or even worse a bully.


Hamburg Coplan, J, 2015 “Lane Byrants’ jab ay Victoria’s Secret”, Fortune.com, retrieved 20 April 2015, http://fortune.com/2015/04/14/lane-bryants-jab-at-victoria-secret/

Moyer, J, 2015 “How Lane Byrant might be bullying skinny women”, Washington Post, retrieved 20 April 1025, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/04/08/lane-bryant-imnoangel-ad-campaign-might-be-bullying-skinny-women/


17 thoughts on “#ImNoAngel

  1. A really interesting read guys as I haven’t seen any of this before as Im not exactly the target audience for either product. We obviously have learnt throughout this topic about the importance of understanding your competitors and their actions which Lane Bryant clear has. We also have learnt that understanding your own customers is important so as long as they have not pushed this campaign too far to get them off side with the issues raised in the Washington post article then it appears it may have been successful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This definitely is a post capable of opening up a can of worms. From my perspective, Lane Bryant are treading a fine line of selling their products at the risk of alienating in-direct markets. Make no mistake the core focus of this campaign is to sell products. “Empowering Woman” is no different to a campaign slogan such as Nike’s “Just Do It” or Coke’s “Open Happiness” – it’s an emotive slogan designed to pull in consumers. Lane Bryant have identified their niche market, committed to some psychological research and there ya go, our core market suffer from low self- esteem and body issues so hey, let’s “Empower” them. I know that’s a massive generalisation, which is why it’s such a fascinating blog. However I do ask, in the event where Victoria’s Secret fired back with a similar malevolent campaign, how would they be perceived? Without a doubt bullies in my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A real can of worms indeed. There is such a fine line between taking a swipe at a rival to improve your position and bullying.These days, very few people take to cyber bullying too well and it can definitely be a disaster for your brand. I think Victoria’s Secret would know this very well and I would be very surprised if there was any retaliation.

    I think sleutogi is spot on is saying that the ‘Empowering Women” is about selling products. Segmentation, targeting and positioning done very well. A very specific audience who would like advertising to encompass a more ‘natural’ look. Lane Bryant focusing on this segment.

    The ‘average’ body size in the states is growing so Lane Bryant are targetting a growing segment.


  4. I liked the post. Unlike other posts people rather than sharing their own experiences have to rely on literature, taking note of the nature of products( I am sorry girls, no offense, i meant this for the guys). I am very much into such level of marketing, it affects the nature and emotion of a brand and that too without challengng them directly, its like beating a bully without even touching him. I can remember of an example of such competition, infact every kid bought up India might.The Advertisement for the brand “Complan” is quite famous in India where tall guys talk to a shorter guy to ask his mom to feed him complan along with milk and that it will make him taller. Later on, its competitor, GSK’s “Horlicks”, released an Ad saying, ‘Drinking Horlicks would make you Taller, Stronger and Sharper, and not just Taller.’ Such out of the box marketing campaigns helps the brand with a big response from the consumers. It does give you a big impact, as explained in my very own blog too, Social Media surely stands at a better position than before when it comes to branding.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t feel like the campaign went too far, or really even verged on bullying… i think if they implied the Angels weren’t beautiful then there’d be a problem, but what I drew from the campaign was that you don’t need to be a VS Angel to be beautiful and look good in lingerie.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not really sure how I feel about Lane Bryant’s campaign, was it “bullying”, I don’t know if that was the intention however what I think is more realistic is the strategy of Marketing/positioning themselves against a market leader which in turn draws more attention to the brand and increases potential sales, Because they could have marketed their idea of beauty and what they stand for without getting involved with Victoria Secret, The fact that they did makes me think it was more a business move than an ideology.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Excellent post, well done! I have to say for me this doesn’t seem to have a bullying tone. It appears to be a brand positioning themselves to their target customer. They seem to be supporting their customers choices, while encouraging them to feel good about themselves and their future purchases…isn’t that what marketing is about? Buying this will mean you will feel good about that. I agree with Erin in that if they directly criticized the VS Angels that would be crossing a line, but positioning your brand to your segment of the market, while empowering them makes good sense…as supported by the positive consumer response from the campaign

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thanks for this great post. I never heard about this #ImNoAngel campaign before I read your post. I don’t think it’s a bully. This campaign helps to build the brand which has a meaning of empowering all women to love every part of herself and making women feel more confident about herself. It also position a meaningful and positive brand in their target customers’ mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This post reminds me to think of the brand FCUK. The brand targeted very clearly at young segment, and the logo has helped the brand to become one of the most popular fashion brands in the UK. Just some simple T-shirts with controversial slogan, but attracted many young people’s attention about ten years ago. The question is, why do the great minds of marketing feel that this is the best way to sell their products? The answer is that it is a response to the cacophony of the marketplace. What with Twitter, Facebook and other social media, the only way to draw attention to the brand may be not just to shout louder, but to be really rather shocking. With Lane Bryant, the point of advertising is to sell product. VS’s core customer must buy the smaller sized items, thus that is who they promote. LB’s typical customer must buy larger sized items, and so that is who they are targeting. Suppose you owned a company that sold product to woman with purple skin, that is who you’d be calling sexy in your ads. So for the purpose of generating buzz for this company, they did a good job with something clever that makes this particular category of women – their customer – feel good. And remember, plus size customers want options too, and are willing to pay for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. i don’t know how Lane Bryant’s images the campaign was ‘bullying’. Maybe it’s a marketing strategy to against market leader. However,It’s a direct dig at Victoria’s Secret, and social media is loving it. Women have jumped on the trending hashtag, posting their own photos and declarations with #ImNoAngel.the brand doesn’t want you to think it’s being persecuted for an honest, well-intentioned misstep, and would rather be crystal clear that the whole thing is an ongoing, brazen and snide attempt at trolling that is playing out pretty much exactly as intended.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This really interesting posting. I saw the video on YouTube a few days ago, it is warm and touching into women’s heart. It’s a good strategy to get people’s attention to do the opposite way to one the most famous and successful underwear brand -Victoria Secret. This adds can hit their targeting customers straightly and capture their heart to get to know about your product. It’s a very creative branding strategy.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a really good, engaging post!
    I think that this is going to be an on-going debate for many reasons.

    On some levels, Lane Bryant is doing a fantastic job- trying to encourage women of bigger sizes to feel comfortable and sexy. This kind of emotion targeting is really interesting because it aims to create an empowering community of like-minded women.
    Creating a brand-community is an ultimate achievement by marketers, because it ensures the brand is as the centre of these communities- allowing the company the opportunity to capitalise from these communities. Another good example of this is Harley-davidson – where the motorbike brand capitalised on the community, building a community around their brand name.
    It is very clever for Lane Bryant to target these women as they then become more likely to have a stronger purchase intent to this brand. Lane Bryant also ensures a competitive differentiation for the same reasons.

    If you get the chance- it might be worth checking out this journal article, which talks about building brand communities and why it can be such a successful tactic.
    James H. McAlexander, John W. Schouten, Harold F. Koenig (2002) Building Brand Community. Journal of Marketing: January 2002, Vol. 66, No. 1, pp. 38-54.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great post! This is certainly an interesting strategy. This type of strategy is risky for a number of reasons:
    1. It could offend your customers
    2. The competitor may retaliate (and the initiator may lose)
    3. It makes the company look insecure
    4. May come across as mean spirited or harsh

    But there are some potential upsides:
    1. People remember it
    2. Creates a comparison point for consumers
    3. It promotes discussion (and all publicity is good publicity right?)

    If done tastefully and subtly, I think it can be a useful technique. I don’t feel that Lane Bryant went too far with their campaign – I think it was subtle and got the message across. I didn’t see any direct attack on “skinny” people, rather it pointed out that sexy comes in all shapes and sizes.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This strategy has proven to be effective and I don’t believe it is intended to be malicious towards Victoria Secret but rather empower, what they consider the “real” women. As majority of women don’t look like Victoria Secret Models, they have an enormous target market all in the while, acknowledging the different shapes of the female form. In this circumstance, the competitor can’t necessarily retaliate because they have defined what they consider the perfect body to be and therefore the ideal person to be purchasing their lingerie. If VS were to retaliate in any sort of fashion, it would be considered distasteful towards different shaped women.


  15. Great post!

    This is by no means malicious at all. The only way I perceive this would be targeting a market that is not targeted directly. e.g. Victoria Secrets targets the ‘perfect body’ which we all know women don’t look like that in real life.

    The company Lane Bryan approaches women that are usually ruled out by companies like Victoria Secrets. Great marketing strategy, Lane Bryan certainly open up the debate to talk about issues that are mainly created by marketing campaigns, women can’t all look like those women in catwalks.

    If Lane Bryan has its share market then the marketing campaign is working very well for them! as per the first post this is a very successful department store in the US! I say well done!


  16. I think Lane Bryan have leveraged the marketing campaign of Victoria Secrets to their benefit. By playing on from the controversy of utilising ultra thin models and positioning their product as a more realistic product for the everyday woman they have potentially accessed customers from both camps. As a smaller company has played smart by utilising the promotion of a larger competitor to their own advantage. Smart Marketing.


  17. An interesting read. I think #imnoangel is a great idea and far from being “bullying”. In todays society where females are objectified, girls start to believe that they have to be dressed up as or look perfect all the time. Such campaigns are important to remind them that it is okay to be normal and that every type of body is beautiful. It is important they feel confident in their own skin and dont constantly compare themselves to size zero supermodels.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s