NEW YORK — The kickoff for Victoria’s Secret’s much-publicized Angels Across America campaign starring Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambroisia, was grounded Monday by what the company said were logistical issues. But a small protest by an environmentalist group waving mock chain saws called attention to the retailer nonetheless.

The much ballyhooed event of the $3.8 billion lingerie specialist, which is sponsoring a multimillion dollar Angels Across America tour, was to begin at the Victoria’s Secret flagship at Herald Square here, and then hit Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The Angels’ New York appearance was canceled less than two hours before the noon event was to have been staged.

A spokeswoman for Victoria’s Secret’s public relations agency Full Picture said the event was “canceled due to scheduling problems.” She would not elaborate. Late Friday, an e-mail from Full Picture said, “We are in the process of changing the locations and time of the event and won’t have final confirmation until Monday morning.”

Meanwhile, a half-dozen environmental protesters representing, some of whom were clad in Victoria’s Secret bras and Angel wings, showed up wielding mock chain saws and held a large banner that said: “Victoria’s Secret: Their Catalogs Destroy Endangered Forests.” The environmentalists’ beef was that Victoria’s Secret sends out more than a million catalogues daily, using less than 10 percent recycled paper in its annual mailings of 394 million catalogues. The Victoria’s Secret catalogues generated sales of $995 million in 2003.

Anthony Hebron, director of communications for Victoria’s Secret and its parent, The Limited Inc., who was at Herald Square, said the brand uses recycled pulp for about 25 million catalogues. “We are looking to use it more as it becomes more feasible,” he added. He said the cancellation of the models’ appearance was not related to the protest.

Apparently, it’s not the first time the company has encountered or expected protesters. Sharen Jester Turney, president and chief executive of Victoria’s Secret Direct, who spoke at the WWD/DNR CEO Summit last week, was accompanied by bodyguards.

As for the absence of the supes, Hebron told at least 75 disappointed onlookers who had queued up to get autographs, that the event was a “photo op for media only, not a consumer event.” He cited “logistical problems” and said a shoot would take place at the Teterboro, N.J., airport late Monday, after which the models would launch the tour in a new city — Miami — followed by Las Vegas and Los Angeles. He said the Chicago event had been changed in September, and that other plans for the campaign would not be altered, and it was still set to be televised.“We just couldn’t get everyone there for a photo op,” continued Hebron. “Tyra did interviews on the ‘CBS Morning Show,’ ‘Live with Regis and Kelly,’ and a taping for ‘The Tony Danza Show;’ Gisele was on ‘The View;’ Alessandra did ‘Fox and Friends’ and ‘Cold Pizza’ on ESPN, and Heidi did the WOR 710AM radio show.”

Angels Across America, which is planned to put Victoria’s Secret back on the tube after it pulled out of its annual $10 million televised fashion extravaganza on CBS last April, is intended to boost the Victoria’s Secret brand through a sexy message on holiday cheer. The tour will be featured in a VH1 “All Access” one-hour TV special on Dec. 13.

“That’s not the end of the protests,” said a Victoria’s Secret bra-clad Vanessa Gravenstin, a graduate student and a member of ForestEthics, who said the next retail catalogue targets will be L.L. Bean, J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Sears Roebuck & Co. and Lands’ End.

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