The 40-second video clip, which will air on victoriassecret.com, as well as all social handles, in email alerts and the Victoria’s Secret app, is meant to educate women about breast cancer and the need for regular self-checks.
“As the world’s leading lingerie brand, the health and well-being of women is paramount to our community,” Martha Pease, chief marketing officer at Victoria’s Secret, said in a statement. “We have a unique opportunity, but also a responsibility to use our platform and scale of our global footprint to bring greater awareness to the risks of breast cancer, especially among younger women and educate around the effectiveness of self-checks.”
The campaign, which runs through Oct. 31, coincides with Victoria’s Secret’s first mastectomy bra and a half a million dollar donation by the intimates brand to the Stella Cares Foundation, a charity dedicated to breast cancer awareness and education, as well as other initiatives around sustainability. McCartney, who created the charity, as well as the new Victoria’s Secret public service announcement, lost her mother, photographer Linda McCartney, to breast cancer in 1998. The designer also recently partnered with the Netflix show “Sex Education” on a short Breast Cancer Awareness video that also encourage women to incorporate daily breast checks into their regular routines.
“Self-checks work,” McCartney said in the Victoria’s Secret video.
Throughout October, 100 percent of sales from the new Body by Victoria Mastectomy Bra, a wire-free bra with an inner lining that can fit any size prosthetic, will be donated to the newly created Victoria’s Secret Global Fund for Women’s Cancers, created in partnership with Pelotonia, a bicycle event that raises money for cancer research. Victoria’s Secret has committed to pledge at least $5 million annually to the cause, which will benefit research around the world, including at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute in the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Funds will further research for cancers that affect females, investigations into racial and gender inequalities for cancer treatments and initiatives that support future female scientists.
While still the leader in the U.S. women’s intimate apparel space, the Columbus, Ohio-based lingerie business has fallen out of favor with consumers in recent years amid the #MeToo Movement and desire for more comfortable innerwear.
In 2015, Victoria’s Secret — then a part of L Brands, which included Bath & Body Works — had 32 percent of the U.S. women’s intimates apparel market, according to Euromonitor International, a market research firm. By the spring of 2020, the brand’s slice of the pie had fallen to just 16 percent of the market, according to The NPD Group’s consumer tracking service.
In an effort to revive the brand, Victoria’s Secret decided to conduct the ultimate makeover, canceling the annual fashion show and adding plus-size models to its lineup. In fact, the brand once known for push-up bras and near-perfect Angels, now looks very different.
In October 2019, the brand hired its first plus-size model Ali Tate Cutler, followed by its first transgender model, Valentina Sampaio, the following August. Most recently, Victoria’s Secret used nine-month-pregnant model Grace Elizabeth for its Mother’s Day campaign.
This past June, Victoria’s Secret launched the VS collection, an initiative consisting of women from assorted backgrounds — such as mental health advocate and model Adut Akech; World Champion freestyle skier Eileen Gu; professional soccer player and LGBTQ activist Megan Rapinoe; actress and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and plus-size model Paloma Elsesser, among others — who will share their stories by way of collaborations, campaigns and social media.
The lingerie brand also completely overhauled its store fleet, closing hundreds of unprofitable stores to make way for more lucrative markets, such as Milan and Israel, stripped away dark walls, hot pink ottomans and photos of the Angels in stores, replacing them instead with soft pink lighting, plus-size mannequins and full-length mirrors.
Greg Unis, chief executive officer of Victoria’s Secret Beauty, told WWD in July that the company is currently working on “the store of the future. They’re a completely different format.” Although he was tight-lipped about the locations or when the three new stores would open.
Behind the scenes, L Brands said it had plans to sell a majority stake of Victoria’s Secret — which includes the Lingerie, Beauty and Pink divisions — to private equity firm Sycamore Partners in early 2020. But the deal fell through amid the pandemic. Three months later, L Brands said it was going it alone and would separate Victoria’s Secret from Bath & Body Works, possibly taking Victoria’s Secret private, in an effort to unlock value in the more profitable soap, hand sanitizer and fragrance brand.
In August, Victoria’s Secret debuted on the public market as a stand-alone firm on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of the newly formed Victoria’s Secret & Co. rose approximately 30 percent in its first month of trading, creating a market cap worth about $5.2 billion. Since then the stock has been relatively flat — closing down 2.18 percent Thursday to $55.26 apiece — making the market cap worth roughly $4.87 billion, but still far above the $525 million price tag that Sycamore had planned to pay.
But the renewed interest in Victoria’s Secret’s transformation wasn’t limited to the investment community. Consumers were curious, too. And it’s translating into increased revenues.
In August, Victoria’s Secret & Co. revealed its first earnings report as a stand-alone company, improving on top-line revenues across all channels, including the brick-and-mortar store fleet, suggesting that consumers were both more comfortable returning to physical locations as vaccines continued to roll out nationwide and that they were curious to see what the new Victoria’s Secret stores looked like. The company logged $151 million in profits as a result.
Other efforts to revive the brand to its glory days include a string of senior-level hires, including the addition of Martin Waters to the C-suite and a majority female board (six out of seven members); as well as new products in stores, such as the return of swimwear to select stores and a collection of sports bras. In addition, L Brands sold a majority stake of the Victoria’s Secret U.K. business to Next plc last fall.