A fashion campaign combining a consistent emphasis on sensuality and female empowerment is the hallmark of the Agent Provocateur lingerie line. The success of the company, it seems, is largely due to its maintaining of a certain style in all of its marketing, and I find this an interestingly old-fashioned strategy. The commercials, videos, and print ads, to begin with, reflect an element I believe essential in promoting this particular kind of fashion; namely, the brand does not take itself too seriously. For example, the company’s “Love Me Tender…Or Else” video/commercial certainly relies on overt sexuality to promote the designs. A young woman learns that her boyfriend is unable to make their date, so she dresses in the brand’s lingerie, covers herself with a trench coat, and goes to his office to tease and punish him. The sexuality is blatant.
At the same time, there is a spirit of fun underscoring the entire video, and there is no sense whatsoever of the actual aggression so often seen in other such ads.
Victoria’s Secret reinforces female vulnerability and need, and Dolce & Gabbana goes to extremes of psycho-sexual themes disturbing in nature. Agent Provocateur, as here, instead relies on a traditional approach of charm and whimsy, which softens the sensuality element. This is seen as well in the recent promotion starring Penelope Cruz, with a man in desperate need in a desert confronted by a gathering of women in the brand’s garments. It is erotic and playful at the same time, and this old-fashioned style conveys a sense of comfort to the consumer. It is a unique campaign in a culture in which some form of violence is so often attached to sexuality in garment. I certainly am drawn to the brand by virtue of these qualities, and its remaining away from violent and/or intentionally unsettling images.
Also very much going to the brand’s success, in my estimation, is its actual daring in adhering to an idea of femininity as a form of female empowerment in itself. More exactly, the lingerie is not presented as enabling women to be hostile, as is so often the case in the industry; rather, it upholds the idea that there is real strength and value in a woman’s feeling sexy and confident in itself, and apart from how any man will perceive the effect. Garry Hogarth, CEO, maintains that the company’s success is primarily due to an emphasis on, not competing with rival lingerie firms, but on focusing on what a woman would like (Glein). This is a critical difference, as it seems that most lingerie designers and marketers seek to appeal to men, through the woman’s ambition to please men.
In all of the Agent Provocateur ads, I get the strong sense that the women enjoy the look and feel of the garments as enabling all possibilities, and as being true to a woman’s innate desire to be attractive and sensual. Men are certainly a part of this equation, but the important point is that they are not the core of it; only the woman is, and this carries an immense appeal to any woman identifying herself as both sensual and independent. In short, the Agent Provocateur campaigns uniformly convey charm and eroticism, and in ways never demeaning a woman by insisting on a need to attract men. By virtue of understatement and consistency, then, the brand gives women a sense of comfort and creates a sense of trust, and the campaign has these effects on me as both consumer and student of fashion marketing.
- Agent Provocateur. 2014. Web. 26 Sept. 2014.
- Glein, Kelsey. Pen?lope Cruz Strips Down in LAgent by Agent Provocateurs Sexy Campaign Film. 18 July 2014. Web. 26 Sept. 2014.
- Interview: Agent Provocateur CEO Garry Hogarth. Lingerie Insight. 28 July 2011. Web. 26 Sept. 2014.
- Love Me Tender…Or Else. Dir. Greg Williams, Perf. Rosie Hingtington-Whiteley. Agent Provocateur Commercial. 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2014.