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.
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.
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/