CHRIS HANSEN, THE LIMITED'S LANE BRYANT

Changing the Shape of Apparel Marketing

By Published on .

Chris Hansen says she's not on a mission. It just looks that way from her track record.

Throughout her career, 50-year-old Ms. Hansen, exec VP-marketing at The Limited's Lane Bryant, has used marketing in different circumstances to make women feel more comfortable in their bodies.

The executive was recruited by ad legend Mary Wells Lawrence, who founded famed ad shop Wells, Rich, Green, New York, to lead its Image Group unit.

While there, Ms. Hansen won the pitch for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Oil of Olay and proceeded to reposition the product from something "mother" would use to an agent for active women fighting the aging process.

Now, as head of marketing for Lane Bryant, she has zeroed in on one of the fastest-growing segments of the apparel market, making over a mature store brand for women size 14-plus.

In the past, "our customers had no choice [among retail offerings, i.e. not just Lane Bryant] and were forced to wear whatever was delivered," she says.

Now, Lane Bryant has trendy seasonal fashions at the same time they are delivered to department stores by Polo Ralph Lauren or Donna Karan, she says.

Lane Bryant will use marketing to promote a full line of lingerie; its goal is to alert its customers they can have the same choice smaller women have at Victoria's Secret and other stores. Lane Bryant is expanding its product-line appeal to college-age students.

Lane Bryant's in-house advertising agency also has been transformed under Ms. Hansen's guidance.

The agency, which had been producing in-store displays, will launch its first TV campaign later this year.

In a company first, Ms. Hansen is using full-figured celebrities such as actresses Camryn Manheim of ABC's The Practice and Kathy Najimy of Veronica's Closet in magazine print ads.

Under her guidance, Lane Bryant moved its direct-mail efforts away from simple postcards touting 20% off to a full-fledged "magalog."

The remodeling comes naturally for Ms. Hansen. She's tackled renovations of several homes on the East Coast.

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