3 Things We Can All Learn From Lane Bryant’s Marketing Campaigns

Welcome to February's Self-Love Marketing Series: focusing on Body Positive brands, campaigns and messaging targeting the plus-size market. This is the final, part 4.

As one of just a few plus size mega-retail brands, Lane Bryant that led a transformation in how retail marketing speaks to plus size women.

Over the past few years, three bold strategies in particular made it clear that the brand was willing to take a stand and celebrate their plus size customer.

1. Viral Hashtags

Many brands introduce hashtags, but few see them being mass adopted and still in rotation months after the campaign has ended.

In April of 2015, Lane Bryant introduced the #ImNoAngel campaign in response to the media debate regarding Victoria’s Secret “Body Perfect” campaign. As VS made headlines for perpetuating harmful stereotypes that the ideal body is thin and only thin, Lane Bryan offered an alternative perspective.

Visibly countering the Victoria’s Secret “Angel” squad, Lane Byant executed a mass marketing campaign featuring models that better represent the majority of American women.

The visuals and unapologetic hashtag were sexy, raw, and real. The #ImNoAngel images were in subway stations and on the sides of buses, and the internet lit up with women sharing their own #ImNoAngel posts.

This campaign was followed by the #PlusisEqual launch in September of 2015. If #ImNoAngel was a shooting star, #PlusisEqual was a meteor shower. The response wasn’t always positive, as some claimed this campaign contributed to the “othering” of plus size women. But overall, the legacy of both these campaigns is a more vocal, empowered, and loyal customers base for Lane Bryant.

Visibly countering the Victoria’s Secret “Angel” squad, Lane Byant executed a mass marketing campaign featuring models that better represent the majority of American women.

2. Start a Revolution

At this point, Lane Bryant had two successful integrated campaigns under its belt. 

Next, they chose to advance the conversation with a third hashtag. Instead the traditional approach where a brand uses snappy headlines and aspirational copy to tell women how they should feel about their bodies, Lane Bryant invited plus size women to define, express and tell the brand how they feel about their bodies.

In February 2016, #ThisBody was launched with the message, “This Body is Made for Starting a Revolution.” “This Body’ aims to celebrate who she really is. She is the voice of women everywhere,” said Lane Bryant CMO Brian Beitler of the launch.

The campaign featured models wearing tee shirts printed with: #ThisBody is made for_______.

Each woman in the campaign filled in the blank. Then, hundreds of thousands of women did the same by purchasing tee shirts and completing the statement for themselves.

By taking a lead-by-listening approach, Lane Bryant made a huge investment in building goodwill with their community.  

3. Once it's working, deepen the work

At this point, Lane Bryant been consistently introducing a new hashtag every six months. But in September of 2016, Lane Bryant decided to dig a deeper groove into the idea of #ThisBody.

They brought in a more diverse cast of women, rounding out the standard squad of familiar models like Ashley Graham and Candice Huffine. New choices included with actresses Gabourey Sidibe and Danielle Brooks.

Importantly, rather than just choosing to create more two-dimensional images these women looking sexy with an empowering hashtag, they  incorporated video. By giving these women a voice and platform from which to directly address and share their personal experiences, the #ThisBody initiative created an even more emotional connection between the brand and plus-size women.

In response to the videos, a large number of hateful comments by internet trolls and fat shamers had accumulated. In response, Lane Bryant decided to give the women in the campaign a chance to address their haters head-on, depicting their responses in the videos.

Rather than reacting to all the negative comments with more hate or negativity, the girls took a page from T Swift  and decided to “shake it off,” with breezy, empowered responses,

Marketing to women in ways that go above the stereotypical poses a challenge for many brands, particularly when it comes to clothing brands. What we can learn from Lane Bryant is value in taking a stand and taking a risk.

Lane Bryant has now known as a brand who not only called their audience in to the revolution, they revolutionized how brands can market to women.

About Melinda Parrish

 
Melinda Parrish is a Ford model that and body positivity advocate. Melinda is a regular contributor for the Huffington Post, Women's Running, Gaiam's lifestyle blog, and partners with brands like Expedia on creating fitness and wellness-related content.
 
She has her own hashtag, #healthyatanysize, and a weekly Facebook Live series called "Body Love TV." She was recently written up in People Magazine for taking a stand for curvy women. In addition to being a model and an influencer, Melinda is a lifelong athlete and former Naval Officer.