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Can They be Too Sexy at Victoria’s Secret

vs-5Victoria’s Secret has found its way into controversy more times than the company might like, but a major advertising campaign highlighting sexy half-bare female models in its quick moving TV ads capture the eyeballs of millions.

The company took flack for its “Bright Young Things” campaign that shows young ladies looking seductively from the pages of magazines and television earlier this year. Threats of boycotts and super stern faces emanated from pulpit to post as the company was slammed for being too sexy. But is it even possible? Can they be too sexy at Victoria’s Secret in this day and age?

Diana Cherry, a mother of three in Seattle, got so angry that she started a social media petition calling for a boycott. She told “Family Matters,” an online parent’s site, as much.

“This is not about my kids,” says Cherry, who launched a Facebook page and a urging Victoria’s Secret to pull its Bright Young Things line that features suggestive messages on panties and willowy models that some parents suspect aren’t old enough to have a driver’s license. More than 13,000 people have signed her petition. “Of course, I care about my daughters, but I’m angry about the messages young girls in general are getting. I want girls to grow up feeling confident to be who they are and not sex objects.”

The company’s parent firm, LTD stock was selling at $43.01 a share on March 21st, but saw a major gain since the controversy brought Victoria Secrets into the headlines. Vicky 1, Outrage 0.

It has been said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. The fashion world is perhaps the most apparent example of that axiom. Brooke Shields famously announced that, in all likelihood, she wasn’t wearing any underwear thank you very much when she said, “What gets between me and my Calvin’s? Nothing.” Ms. Shields was 24 years old in 1979 when she filmed that spot, but she was most famous at the time for her roles as the most nubile of all maidens in movies like Blue Lagoon and Pretty Baby. Taking the statement at face value, Calvin Klein sales should have been a wash. Jeans up. Undies down. Instead Calvin made a mint. Sex sells, after all.

Is all of this a sign of the decline and fall of Western Civilization or just a pebble that has already sunk below its own tiny ripple in the lake? After all, the Bright Young Things campaign has already given way to Victoria’s Secret summer push, with the season soon to change.

Back in the 60s parents quaked over what we wore, the length of our hair, and how we danced. Add dittos to every vs-2decade after that. The Victoria’s Secret ads aren’t porn, and are designed to catch your eye. Mission accomplished.

That said there is an aspect of the campaign that seems a bit unseemly. It isn’t about the pictures as much as it is about the wording, “Bright Young Things.”

L Brands Inc. has holdings besides Victoria’s Secret. This isn’t just a matter of a controversial campaign driving a stock spike. It can be an entryway to a discussion about how young ladies are portrayed by the fashion Mad Men. If bright young daughters have a conversation with stodgy old Mom and Dad it can only be a good thing.


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