Instead, the company is taking its Webcast to a wider playing field-the Cannes International Film Festival. Victoria's Secret plans to build its brand internationally via the Web-in lieu of opening stores outside the U.S.-with the live fashion show event at Cannes in May. Media strategies are still under development.
"By no means does that mean we won't be in [the Super Bowl] another year-if the event and timing are right, we may be back in 2001," said Jill Beraud, VP-marketing at Victoria's Secret.
MOUNTAIN OF PUBLICITY
The Super Bowl event itself helped gain the brand an international following. The 1998 spot previewing the live Webcast, at a cost of about $1.5 million, generated a mountain of publicity. In its annual report, parent company Intimate Brands notes more than 1 billion people around the world were aware of it, or "one in five on earth."
"It was such an amazing success because it was tied to an event happening within days," Ms. Beraud said.
More important, the tandem impact of the spot and lingerie fashion show Webcast-combined with some important merch-andising changes at the store itself-paid off, helping boost sales 13% to $2.9 billion, according to Richard Baum, retail analyst, Credit Suisse First Boston. That, he said, ranks Victoria's Secret among the most successful specialty retailers this year.
Its Web presence, the company claims, has produced orders from 136 nations, 1.1 million registrations for e-mail updates and an additional 600,000 new catalog requests since its launch last year. While the company would not break out Internet sales, Ms. Beraud said the operation is profitable.
Another change on the horizon for Victoria's Secret is a shift from special-occasion intimates to more of a focus on everyday undergarments.
"Five years ago, we were a niche player," Ms. Beraud said.
Now, Victoria's Secret also is a player in departments such as hosiery. Sales in its beauty business, currently at about $500 million, may soon approach that of lingerie, she said. Hosiery sales are expected to reach $500 million in less than five years.
This holiday season, in its launch of new Desire bras, the brand is reflecting that shift with a marketing campaign a fashion and pampering element to draw a wider universe of women.
Fashion books are also becoming a larger part of its media buy, with the marketer increasing spending 30% to an estimated $100 million, and emphasizing titles like Elle, where it has the November gatefold, and Vogue, where it purchased an eight-page December insert.
Creative, too, is taking a more fashionable approach. Although it's still relying on its signature supermodel spokeswomen-and there continues to be ample cleavage and skin in its visuals-for the first time, the women are not simply objectified, and an increased amount of footage is focused on their faces.
In a half-dozen b&w spots, created in-house, the models are named and are given some time to air their personalities by answering the question "What is desire?"
It's Victoria's Secret desire, however, not to evolve too far.
"I don't think we'll ever be anything but sexy," Ms. Beraud said.