If you’ve been online this weekend you’ve probably heard the news that Lane Bryant has tried to run yet another ad on several major tv networks and had the ad banned. If you follow my work on The Lingerie Addict, this subject won’t be new to you. When I first saw the news story, my initial reaction was to roll my eyes and move on. I have reviews planned for this week and it’s not like this hasn’t happened before. At this point, there’s a whole other discussion to be had about whether just putting out the ad and having it banned is a marketing strategy in itself, but we won’t be tackling that today.
Why I changed my mind and am writing this today is pretty simple: the ad is really good. Not only does it fix many of the specific issues I had with the previous Lane Bryant campaigns, but it also expands the set of issues that Lane Bryant typically tackles. I am so happy to see Lane Bryant stepping up their marketing game and figuring out how to better reflect the lives and concerns of actual full-figured and plus size women.
Let’s start with the basics. You can watch the ad here and then we’ll settle in and talk about why this is so much better than the previous campaigns.
Okay, ready to go?
I’ve written several columns about these types of campaigns before, so I”m thrilled to see some of the issues I highlighted over the past year get fixed. While there are high-waisted panties, they’re part of reasonably pretty sets and aren’t being sold as “problem solvers” as they are so frequently in the plus-size lingerie market. There’s also no shapewear in sight, not even a waist cincher. +1 points to Lane Bryant for not implying that plus-size customers should be shoved into restricting garments to be socially acceptable.
Secondly, the camera work and focus in this ad are really important – in fact, it’s what primarily caught my attention when I first saw it. While the models are still pretty idealized there are several truly groundbreaking moments as the camera lingers on things that plus-size women are very familiar with. These shots show stomach rolls, excess underarm flab and several other features that are universally vilified in the fashion industry. Not only does this ad point them out, but it does it in a positive context that is judgement-free. I truly can’t exaggerate how much of a step forward this is: I’ve never seen a fashion ad that treats these like everyday features that normal people have rather than some kind of dire public service warning about health. I suspect Lane Bryant may get a ton of negative pushback on this, so this represents a gigantic risk for them as a retailer. They deserve all the credit we can give them here, if only to negate all of the complaints they will be getting about “promoting the obesity epidemic”.
Finally, this ad goes even further than previous campaigns and does something that Avigayil and I touched on in our interview: it shows that plus-size women are just like everyone else. These women have goals, personalities and represent distinctly different customer types. The models proudly talk about their sex appeal, their athletic ability, their self-confidence and their strong sense of agency. It even shows a plus-size model nursing, which is combining two potential advertising firestorms into one shot.
This ad represents more than several steps forward: it’s a huge risk for a brand that is guaranteed to draw mixed feedback from the public. I talk a lot in interviews about how we have to praise brands that are taking risks, even if they aren’t perfect, because in this industry just trying to do the right thing can be both unpopular and expensive. Lane Bryant has taken a thoughtful step forward to show us what the future of plus-size lingerie advertising can look like. Is it perfect? No. But it’s a giant leap in the right direction and they deserve to be praised for it.
Lane Bryant is using the hashtag #ThisBody on social media for this campaign, so please use it to let them know that you appreciate their effort!