Victoria’s Secret should be spanked, and not in a naughty fun way.

I’m not even going to get into how utterly creepy panties with slogans like “Wild” and “Call Me” on young girls (12-16) is. I’m not going to get into the debate about how damaging sexualizing teen girls is or how things like this degrade their self-worth. Yup—bad.

I AM going to weigh in on how terrible the direct mail pieces Victoria’s Secret is sending out are. First their list isn’t clean. I received two for Eva Polanco at my address. I have no idea who this is, and I have owned the house for almost 10 years. So unless they got her on their list at age six or under she is no longer their target audience. It seems optimistic to mail to her in the hope that having been a Victoria’s secret customer for more than 10 years that Eva would have produced the next generation of shoppers by now and one of them would be a girl.

This mailing was more than likely done by an ad agency. My guess is they wanted it to; stand out, be creative, and be the embodiment of “Love what’s underneath”. Here’s where they missed.

In order to meet the postal mailing requirements the mailing needed to be wafer sealed three times. Ouch! wafer seals are a big barrier for customers. It’s not like these didn’t cost a fortune to print already, seriously, you needed to save 3 cents on postage? There are three FREE messages which is great but they are artfully dull and on their side which reduces readability. Remember, in direct mail you get points for response not art. The back cover does have information on the items shown but it is in 5 point grey type that borders on unreadable and unnoticeable. 3 points off for Slytherin.

The first open is all images of pretty girls. Again there is unnoticeable and illegible information about the products.

Once it is fully open you get to the FREE offers. And they are cleverly hidden. There are three peel-offs you can just make out in the cluttered confusion of the background. They are not in the upper right corner or center where you would be most likely to see them AND the printer did such a good job with registration you really don’t notice that they are peel-offs in low light, like my hallway, where I open the mail. Oh and the type is reversed out of the image so it’s extra hard to read. Naughty, naughty, naughty.

If a customer does get over all of these hurdles and peals off the coupon they have to read 4 point type that says (wait, I have to get my magnifying glass out) “February 12 – March 18 2013.” (It could be a comma here, but honestly, even with a magnifier it is hard to tell.) “bring this card to any Victoria’s Secret PINK or Victoria’s Secret store and receive your free Mini Cheekster! No purchase required.” Then there is a slew of legal speak that hurts my eyes too much to read.

The back is a poster with the headline “Love what’s underneath” and then “Look-at-me bandeaus and bralettes, must-have push-ups and pretty lace panties. It’s what’s underneath that counts.” It has a madala sort of circle design made out of bralettes and undies. Creepy and not likely to replace the Justin Bieber or Disney poster that’s on their target audience’s wall already.

Okay, okay, maybe I am going to weigh in on how awful sexualizing young girls is. I want young girls to hear that it’s what’s inside that counts and that they are beautiful just the way they are. Hey Victoria’s Secret, go check out your arch nemesis Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign. They get a million points for Gryffindor!

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The Catalog Blog covers opinions and information on all things catalog. Have something to add? Leave a comment below. Catalog University is devoted to helping you get ahead in the fun and fascinating world of catalogs. If you want even more information about cataloging, including FREE Pub Talks, be sure to sign up for the Cat-U mailing list. We will never share your name with 3rd parties.

Sarah Fletcher
Co-founder Catalog University
Creative Director Catalog Design Studios Inc.


  • Bill Wilde

    Reblogged this on Wilde Ideas and commented:
    Let’s allow children to be children. VS normally does great work, but this borders on “kiddie porn”. What parents would even allow their kids to buy this stuff, or wear it? VS needs to stick to the high road and re-focus on adults.