Has Victoria's Secret figured out the secret to retail social campaigns?

victorias secret dublin airport ireland   august 2014

Using social to create the illusion of intimacy is good, but it's never forgetting the brand that is the magic

Retail marketers have known for years the critical nature of social media communications. But every now and then, one retailer takes it up a notch and shows some of the huge potential in up-to-date social campaigns. This time, it's 1,139-store apparel chain Victoria's Secret and an impressive rollout on Instagram.

What Victoria's Secret is selling with this campaign is a line of bras. It knows that Instagram is arguably the most visual of the leading social sites, so what better way to generate some social buzz than by leveraging its well-known models?

Specifically, it opted to showcase the flexibility, comfort and visual appeal of its apparel items by filming its models boxing with each other.

An interesting piece in Mobile Marketer narrated what happened next.

"Victoria’s Secret tapped spokeswomen Martha Hunt and Elsa Hosk to connect with fans via the short video clips and still images, which featured the Angels wearing branded sport pants and sport bras. The ladies then inform Snapchat followers of their plans to have an impromptu boxing match in the gym, before reminding viewers to head to their nearest Victoria’s Secret store or shop online to take advantage of the sale, which enables shoppers to receive a free sport pant with any full-price sport bra purchase," the story said. "The brand bookended this content with a slew of Instagram posts, also starring Ms. Hosk and Ms. Hunt, which included more information about the limited-time promotion."

To say that these women are merely models, in the conventional Madison Avenue advertising sense of the word, is misleading. Models have historically been anonymous backgrounds, with credits rarely given even in high-profile magazine ad spreads except for the most powerful supermodels.

And yet supermodel celebrity is precisely what Victoria's Secret is trying to deliver with all of its top models. Their names and pushed aggressively, making them into stars rather than playing them down so as to not rob the brand name of any of the spotlight.

In the social media world, the power of these campaigns come from these posts often coming from what appears to be the direct social sites of the models. These allows the target demographic of 15-to-25-year-old women to feel as those they are directly interacting with the models, by posting comments back.

And, yes, it is highly likely that many of the response messages were written by people very far removed from the models, but it's impossible to tell which ones. It's the illusion of intimacy — through extreme close-up selfies and seemingly playful video sessions — that delivers the oomph with this social media campaign.

Something to consider. A lot of larger retailers have the budget to finance this kind of production value and can craft similar efforts. But what impresses me the most on this campaign is that these social snippets never forget the point. That boxing video did reinforce the key message of comfort, flexibility and that they can look really good. (Yeah, OK, the fact that they were worn by precisely pancaked, coiffed and barely dressed supermodels didn't hurt.)  

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