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Maverick's Morning Thoughts

How Victoria's Secret Went "WOKE" and "Broke"

Maverick Steffen  -  1/3/2024

I do not care what people want to buy! If they want large women in thongs, short women with mustaches, old women with huge feet or celebrity-looking women with healthy bodies. All I care about is: what do they want, and how do I sell it to them. That's it, and nothing more.

My God is the mighty number (revenue) and what it tells me when I pray to it at night is Victoria's Secret new branding strategy failed because it followed the route of a nonsensical political agenda.

It went WOKE, and then it went broke (lost a ton of money).

The Victoria's Secret (VS) WOKE movement can be traced back to 2021 when VS hired American professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe, who quickly said the brand's prior messaging was "patriarchal," and "sexist."

The new VS branding centered around overweight models, transexual men posing as women and a celebration of mediocre appearances, and lifestyles. Did it work?

Did women want to buy sexy lingerie after seeing it modeled by an obese man?

Victoria's Secret stock price sank from $74/share in 2021 to $14/share in October 2023.

Clearly, the new branding failed. It's common sense why.

After all, people didn't read Homer's Iliad because Achilles was a fat, cowardly, geek. He was tall (10 feet, in fact), strong, disagreeable, dominant and all women wanted him and all men wanted to be like him.

So when you're selling lingerie, are you selling his female counterpart: feminine, beautiful, young, agreeable, healthy and fertile?

Now, listen, I was fat, so I can speak freely about being fat, and skinny. Anecdotally, I attract more sexual attention being skinny.

More women, and men, enjoy being in my presence when I'm healthy-looking.

After all, being skinny isn't just about being desirable, it's the probability that one is healthy, will live longer, be able to cope better with stress, bedroom activities and tragedy! Marketing is about perception, not reality, after all.

To me, the fundamental thrust behind WOKEism is the Marxist intolerance of dominance hierarchies that naturally reward talent, beauty, hard-work and sacrifice.

During a time of tragedy, nobody says: where are all of the fat people?!

They want the strong heroes and beautiful princesses--that is what Western narratives are built around--and not by some conspiracy theory, but by popular demand.

The fundamental issue at the heart of Victoria's Secret's strategy was the underestimation of what their traditional branding represented to their customer base: aspirational beauty and luxury.

To me, the fundamental thrust behind WOKEism is the Marxist intolerance of dominance hierarchies that naturally reward talent, beauty, hard-work and sacrifice.

According to the WOKE Marxists, you are fine just the way you are, and you are entitled to the fruits of the system, no matter what.

If you worked hard to get an A in your math test, you should share that grade with Timmy, who didn't apply himself and got a C-- now you both get Bs!

If you are a beautiful woman and prefer to date attractive men, you need to date ugly men too to give them a chance!

You see, individualism and individual choices are condemned in a WOKE society. It's all about controlling the masses' opinions and actions to create a better world! 

If it worked, great! Sign me up! But it fails, again, and again, and again, and again.

While inclusivity and body positivity are increasingly important in the modern society, for a brand built on selling not just lingerie but a fantasy, the abrupt shift felt inauthentic and alienating to many of its customers.

My fiancé, for example, went to VS to buy new lingerie to turn me on, and a 6'3" man dressed as a woman offered to help her. Needless to say she has never returned. What woman wants to buy intimate clothing from a man?

This points to a larger truth in marketing (no pun intended): while societal values evolve and expanding inclusivity is vital, the execution of such changes must be deeply rooted in authentic brand alignment and customer understanding.

Furthermore, the market's reaction underlines a prevailing reality in the beauty and fashion industry: aspirational beauty sells.

Despite the WOKE intent behind forcing others to celebrate easy-to-achieve outcomes (participation trophies, essentially), when it comes to lingerie and high-end fashion, there is a historical and persistent market trend favoring idealized representations of beauty.

It's a delicate balance to strike - respecting and reflecting societal shifts while maintaining the essence of what drives consumer desire and loyalty.

Listen, I love all people, but I wouldn't put all people on a billboard for lingerie, plumbing supplies, back-to-school specials or an energy drink. There is a time and place for everyone in marketing, but not everyone at the same time.

After all, that would be like placing paint in a car's fuel tank, or drinking nail polish remover--not all liquids, not all humans are created equal in the eyes of universal laws.

Victoria's Secret's scenario is a stark reminder of the importance knowing what your market wants, not what you want them to want. Disney learned this as well.

The lesson here is clear: in the pursuit of relevancy and righteousness, losing sight of your core customer and brand identity can be a misstep with lasting consequences.

To your success!


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