This year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show saw a significant drop in viewership after controversial comments were made by an executive about transgender models, reported Business Insider.
3.3 million people watched the fashion show this year, according to data from ABC, the network that runs it. Last year, the show garnered 5 million viewers and in 2016 – when it aired on CBS – it received 6.7 million.
This drop in views could be accredited to the controversial comments made by Ed Razek, an executive from Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, L Brands. Razek said in an interview with Vogue that he didn’t think the fashion show should feature “transsexuals” because “the show is a fantasy.”
“Shouldn’t [we] have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special,” he said.
Razek also said that he the brand wouldn’t allow plus-sized models to walk in the show, either.
The comments received backlash online, even from some notable celebrities. Singer Halsey posted a message on Instagram criticizing the company. “If you are a trans person reading this, and these comments have made you feel alienated or invalidated, please know that you have allies,” she wrote. Bella Hadid, a supermodel who walked in this year’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, apparently agreed, reposting Halsey’s post to her Instagram story.
ThirdLove, a competitor of Victoria’s Secret, ran a full-page ad in the New York Times denouncing the brand for the comments. “Your show may be a ‘fantasy,’ but we live in reality,” read the ad.
“I was appalled when I saw the demeaning comments about women you Chief Marketing Officer, Ed Razek, made to Vogue last week,” wrote ThirdLove cofounder and CEO Heidi Zak in the advertisement. “How in 2018 can the CMO of any public company – let alone one that claims to be for women – make such shocking, derogatory statements?”
Victoria’s Secret has seen slipping sales, increasingly losing market share to body-positive brands like Aerie. Last month, the brand’s CEO Jan Singer stepped down. She will be replaced by John Mehas, the current president of Tory Burch.