Inconsistent Messages Spell Trouble for Victoria’s Secret
Consistency is king, especially when it comes to a company’s crisis management messaging. Victoria’s Secret learned this textbook lesson of crisis PR the hard way this week.
The retail leader found itself in hot water after reportedly marketing to teens and tweens with its recent PINK line’s Bright Young Things campaign. A strong parental-led pushback prompted Victoria’s Secret to issue a formal statement clarifying that PINK is intended for college-aged women. However, questions regarding sincerity arose when it was noted that a Victoria’s Secret executive allegedly made comments to the contrary just two months ago.
“When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be?” Victoria’s Secret Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer reportedly said at a conference in January. “They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at PINK.”
This isn’t the first time that Victoria’s Secret has been accused of sexualizing young girls. It’s a delicate issue, and given the company’s past controversies, it is critical that the Victoria’s Secret PR team establish consistent core messaging. The company will also need to appear credible and genuine to both its customers and the public.
Victoria’s Secret would be well-advised to learn from this latest snafu, and to ensure that all public-facing executives are well-schooled with regard to messaging discipline.