Victoria’s Secret begins campus campaign

The new campaign at the University targets college women as new customers.

Brady Averill

Sex sells. Some people believe it’s selling at a university near you.

Victoria’s Secret, a popular women’s clothing store, started a campaign Monday on campus that targets college women as new customers.

The company regularly uses supermodels to showcase clothing lines, sometimes partially nude. Victoria’s Secret sells underwear, lingerie and clothing that advertises relationships, love and sex appeal.

While some said they believe the company’s advertisements can be damaging to young women, most people interviewed on campus Monday said the company should be able to market on college campuses.

However, by marketing to college students directly, the company is only trying to broaden its demographic audience, said Sara Tervo, a Victoria’s Secret spokeswoman.

The company saw the need to create a comfortable clothing line for a youth market, she said.

“It was more than just a sexy slip, it was a hole in our assortment that we thought we could fill,” she said.

The new collection for 18- to 22-year-old women, PINK, is designed with sexiness and youthful energy, the company’s press release said.

“Our ads have to include what we are selling,” Tervo said.

The models who wear the sexy apparel belong to a diverse group of all nationalities, she said.

“They are all shapes and sizes,” she said. “It’s all about the attitude and feeling good about yourself,” she said.

Some people said they believe Victoria’s Secret is sending messages that encourage unrealistic body images and sex.

Dr. Kerri Boutelle, director of the Services for Teenagers at Risk Center for Eating Disorders and Weight Management, said not all Victoria’s Secret’s advertisements promote an unhealthy body image for young women.

Tervo said some of the PINK clothing line is for college students who roll out of bed and wear the clothes to class.

The company is designing underwear and pajamas, which is necessary apparel for young women, she said.

While, Tervo said, PINK is not necessarily sexy, Victoria’s Secret as a brand is.

On Victoria’s Secret’s Web site Monday, a topless model was lying on her stomach and wearing only jeans.

Like the company’s line and advertisements, the images are encouraging students to “be a sex goddess,” said Karal Ann Marling, a University popular-culture expert. People are “sexualized” at an early age, she said.

“Everything in their experience from sixth grade up is telling them sex is good,” she said.

That’s what society tells them, she said.

Ads are OK

Most students and some faculty members interviewed said Victoria’s Secret’s campaign is perfectly ethical.

First-year student Jeremie Legand said students should not be blocked from advertisements.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. You’ve gotta make money, and you have to market,” he said.

He said he doesn’t think the 18- to 22-year-old age group is too young to have a lingerie collection specially designed for it.

Horticulture student Laura Freund, who is also the University’s Women’s Forum secretary, said promoting PINK on college campuses is “obviously exploitative.”

“To tell women that this is OK or that this is ‘us’ – it’s not even asking us, it’s telling us what to like,” she said.

“None of us (members of the Women’s Forum) Ö are fans of the politics of Victoria’s Secret. We definitely don’t support Victoria’s Secret.”

Sophomore Heather L. Gustafson said Victoria’s Secret’s marketing tactics are smart; promoting on campus to female college students is a good way to get people interested.

First-year student Megan Anderson said that with so many things advertised around campus, Victoria’s Secret should be able to as well.

“I guess there are worse things that could be promoted, or are,” senior Amy Garvin said.

Rebecca Lehmer, an employee of Christian Student Fellowship, said she’s not against the clothes, but questions the message Victoria’s Secret is issuing by marketing on campus.

Lehmer said some of Victoria’s Secret’s advertising is explicit and provocative. In some ways, it might be selling sex, she said.

That’s troubling when many 18-to 22-year-olds are not yet married, she said.

“I just have a problem when sex becomes something that’s normal outside the marriage,” Lehmer said.

Yet, some students said sex and college are synonymous with each other.

“Everything in American society is based around selling sex more or less,” senior Jon Witebsky said.

One more promotional campaign that markets lingerie to young women doesn’t bother him, he said.