JEETENDR SAYS "VICTORIA'S SECRET IS IN REAL DANGER OF LOSING RELEVANCE"

'Victoria's Secret is in danger of losing its relevance'

Ashley Lutz | Business Insider

Victoria's Secret's image is under pressure.

The brand currently controls 35% of the lingerie market and has posted quarter after quarter of same-store sales growth. 

But Victoria's Secret has recently fallen on hard times. 

Several key Angels, including Karlie Kloss and Doutzen Kroes, have left the brand. Start-ups like AdoreMe are poaching top designers and offering similar products at cheaper prices.  

Plus-size customers are petitioning executives to offer larger sizes. And Lane Bryant took aim at Victoria's Secret's models in a recent ad campaign.

"Like Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria's Secret is in real danger of losing its relevance amongst women as the brand is labeled sexist and stodgy," branding expert and University of Southern California professor Jeetendr Sehdev told Business Insider. 

Abercrombie & Fitch ruled the teen sector for years but lost its footing when it failed to adapt to fast-fashion competitors like H&M and Forever 21. Abercrombie was also criticized for excluding plus-size customers and minorities in its stores.

"Victoria's Secret needs to stop hiding behind dazzle and dated '70s concepts such as 'Angels" and the 'Fantasy Bra,' and start having a real conversation with women," Sehdev said. 

The brand famously hires 10 famous models to represent its brand as "Angels." It also spends millions of dollars on a televised fashion show, complete with diamond-encrusted bras and performances by Taylor Swift. 

"The dazzling and over the top fantasy positioning is simply alienating to the modern day sophisticated and complex young woman," Sehdev said. 

As consumers' opinions of beauty change, Victoria's Secret seems outdated. 

The brand faced widespread backlash for its "Perfect Body" ad last year, which featured a row of stick-thin Angels dressed in lingerie. Customers complained that Victoria's Secret was promoting false stereotypes of beauty. 

The company eventually apologized for the ad.

Consumers are also pressuring Victoria's Secret to offer larger sizes. 

The largest panty size it offers is XL, or equivalent to a size 16. The fashion industry defines plus-size clothing as sizes 12 to 24, though many retailers offer up to a size 28 to meet demand. 

Bra sizes are inconsistent. Some styles are offered up to a D, while others go up to a DDD. 

Still, many women feel they don't have a good selection at Victoria's Secret. 

"My money and my credit are good enough for them, but the fact that I can only buy items like perfume, lotion, and body spray sends the message that my body is not," said Dana Drew, a California woman who launched a petition against the brand. "Every year I watch the Angel fashion show and would love to purchase the items I see on my screen but can't because Victoria's Secret doesn't sell plus sizes."

Plus-size brand Lane Bryant took aim at Victoria's Secret in a new lingerie campaign called "I'm no angel."

Lane Bryant's ads aim to "celebrate women of all shapes and sizes by redefining society’s traditional notion of sexy with a powerful core message: ALL women are sexy," the company wrote in a news release.

The plus-size retailer's ads feature notable plus-size models and encouraged users to tweet photos with the hashtag #ImNoAngel.

Victoria's Secret should learn from the Lane Bryant ads, Sehdev said. 

"The brutal social media backlash from the Lane Bryant campaign #ImNoAngel campaign can prove to be a valuable lesson for the brand: less spectacle and more sincerity towards your customers," he said. 

Victoria's Secret needs a new marketing strategy to keep its customers. 

"Women today have never felt stronger or sexier. They have single-handedly redefined sexy as a state of mind and not a specific dress size," Sehdev said. "Victoria's Secret needs to celebrate this new attitude to remain relevant."






USA TODAY: JEETENDR TALKS ANGELINA & ACTIVISM

Stars inspire but do they move us to action?

Maria Puente, Ann Oldenburg and Maeve McDermott | USATODAY

There has been a surge of inspiring stars speaking out lately, and not just on stage and screen. People are listening — especially in the media. But are more people doing as a result of celebrity urging?

Turns out it's not an easy thing to measure, although some are trying — and coming up with surprising results.

Sometimes celebs can make a difference, as in the "Katie Couric effect," when the TV newswoman had a colonoscopy live on TV in 2000 to emphasize the importance of screening for colon cancer. Many more people started getting tested, medical professionals say.

Since then, the number of celebrities using their high profiles to draw attention to a range of social issues has only increased.

The chorus of raised voices inspiring global conversations includes:

• Angelina Jolie: In a beautifully crafted essay in the New York Times two years ago, she urged women to get genetic testing for cancer, and explained why she did it and what happened. Jolie's disclosure highlights women's painful choices. People were paying attention: There were eight times as many tweets about her as usual the day her essay ran. She wrote a follow-up column last month.


• Kerry Washington: She brought an LGBT audience to its feet at a GLAAD media awards gala in Los Angeles last month, speaking up for all kinds of diversity in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the cameras. Result: Three times as many tweets.

• Justin Timberlake: He accepted an innovation-and-creation award at iHeartRadio Music Awards last month, giving a sweet shout out to the "creation" he and his pregnant wife are soon to welcome, and summed up by telling young people it's OK to be different or weird. Result: Four times as many tweets.

• Shonda Rhimes: Accepting an award at the Human Rights Gala, the creator of such popular TV shows as Grey's Anatomy and Scandal addressed all the kids who are "chubby and not so cute and nerdy and shy and invisible and in pain. Whatever your race, whatever your gender, whatever your sexual orientation, I'm standing here to tell you: You are not alone." Result: Five times as many tweets.

• Screenwriter Graham Moore: In his Oscar acceptance speech for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game, he movingly appealed to kids contemplating suicide, saying he once thought about it too, and look at him now. It's OK to not fit in, he declared: "Stay weird, stay different." There were 14,000 tweets per minute during his speech.

And there are more: Michelle Obama celebrated the awesomeness of black girls at the Black Girls Rock! awards in New Jersey last week. Duchess Kate of Cambridge spoke out on the touchy issue of children's mental health as one of her charity interests. Emma Watson, as a UN goodwill ambassador, stood up for feminism and gender equality in a speech at Davos, Switzerland, in January.


The idea of celebs taking up causes is "not necessarily a new thing, but it's come to more awareness because ours is such an immediate-gratification society and because of the rise of social media," says Matt Donahue, a lecturer in the Department of Pop Culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. "You can't do much anymore without things blowing up rather quickly."

Make that instantaneously. A celeb only has to tweet and it's around the world in a flash.

When Jolie urges women to get genetic testing, or when Robin Roberts shares her breast cancer ordeal over months on TV, it's possible for medical professionals to measure the effect.

After Couric's husband died of colon cancer and she began her awareness campaign, screenings jumped 20%, and the effect lasted for up to a year, a study in Archives of Internal Medicine found.

TV show creator Shonda Rhimes: "Celebrities have learned that it's not only difficult to keep secrets, but that their fans respect them more when they own their truth," says Howard Bragman of online reputation management service Reputation.com. Theirs are "revelations that move people to act and save lives in the process."

What celebrities say gets attention, but what they're saying also seems to resonate more these days, says Linda Ong, CEO of TruthCo, a cultural branding and insights consulting firm.

Stars "advocate Millennial values of social justice and equality and tolerance, and the reason they resonate more strongly now is that there's an entire and sizable generation that has been raised with these ideas," Ong says.

Millennials value individualism and community, believe in working to make things better and admire authenticity, she says. It's no longer good enough for a star to just write a check to save the pandas; we want to see more.

"People are looking for inspiration," Ong says. But it has to be seen as authentic and doable. "Someone who IS experiencing (say, cancer) has more credibility than someone who just says, 'Hey we should pay attention.'"

Jolie has a number of causes. She has campaigned to raise awareness of sexual violence in war zones, bringing more attention to a difficult issue. But can she get ordinary people to act?

There is a danger of "badvocacy," Ong says. "The global ambassador role is the more conventional celebrity role in raising awareness. The 'badvocacy' celebrity is seen as swooping in to draw attention to a cause, then going back to a cushy life."

The efficacy of celebrity campaigns is "a big question mark," Donahue says.

Getting a celebrity on board can backfire, adds Jeetendr Sehdev, a professor of marketing at the University of Southern California and an expert on celebrity branding. He has done a first-ever study of the effectiveness of celebs in the U.N. Goodwill Ambassadors program, including the likes of Jolie, Watson, Victoria Beckham, Nicole Kidman, Jackie Chan and Mira Sorvino.

He found that the U.N.'s image is shifting to a "silly, phony star-stuck organization," and some celebrity partnerships have alienated potential supporters.

"People can end up caring less for the cause," he says, citing Emma Watson's gender-equality campaign for the U.N.

Watson was ranked No. 4 in his list of "seven least credible" goodwill ambassadors, based on surveys of how people judged celebs on 18 "perceptual criteria" such as expertise, morality, intelligence, honesty, altruism, compassion, sensitivity and trustworthiness.

Watson is young, pretty, seemingly sincere and globally famous, thanks to the Harry Potter movies. Still, "she was not thought to be a credible ambassador — people were questioning whether she was outside her comfort zone," Sehdev says.

Victoria Beckham, Christina Aguilera and Katy Perry also were on the "least credible" list, while the "most credible" list included David Beckham, Liam Neeson and Mia Farrow.

Cynicism about celebrity activism even extends to Jolie's humanitarian work, for which Queen Elizabeth II recently named her an honorary dame.

Sehdev says his research shows that 83% of those surveyed think Jolie became a U.N. ambassador at least partly to combat her "home-wrecker" image for allegedly breaking up the marriage of Brad Pitt (now her husband) and Jennifer Aniston.

"There's already a lot of awareness in the marketplace of humanitarian issues. The challenge is to get people to act, and that's why (the U.N.) needs to be strategic about partnerships," he says.

Instead, "They're partnering hefty causes with anyone with a No. 1 single, and that's inappropriate. An ambassador for a serious issue needs to be someone with a serious level of expertise."


Jeetendr was interviewed on the impact of celebrity influence in USAToday.  View the original article here. 


JEETENDR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES ON STARBUCKS “THIS IS ABOUT COFFEE WARS”

Starbucks Initiative on Race Relations Draws Attacks Online

Sydney Ember | The New York Times

Scrawled on Starbucks cups, the words “Race Together” were intended to stimulate conversations about race relations in America, beginning just days before the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday. But the coffee company’s campaign has instead unleashed widespread vitriol and derision.

The company effort, which began this week, lit up social media, drawing criticism and skepticism. The attacks grew so hostile that Corey duBrowa, the senior vice president for global communications at Starbucks, temporarily deleted his Twitter account on Monday. “Last night I felt personally attacked in a cascade of negativity,” Mr. duBrowa wrote in a post on Medium on Tuesday.

The fury and confusion boiled down to a simple question: What was Starbucks thinking?

Reactions have ranged from video parodies of customer interactions with baristas to some hostile online attacks aimed at corporate executives. Many have pointed out that the company’s leadership is predominantly white, while many of its baristas are members of minorities.

Others pleaded for a more traditional relationship with the businesses they patronize.

Gwen Ifill, the co-anchor of “PBS NewsHour,” wrote in a tweet on Tuesday: “Honest to God, if you start to engage me in a race conversation before I’ve had my morning coffee, it will not end well.”

At the Wednesday gathering in Seattle, Howard D. Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, addressed the nascent public relations campaign accompanied by the stagecraft of African-American guest speakers like the Academy Award winner Common and ending with Jennifer Hudson’s rousing rendition of “Hallelujah” at the close of the presentation.

“Race is an unorthodox and even uncomfortable topic for an annual meeting,” he acknowledged. “Where others see costs, risks, excuses and hopelessness, we see and create pathways of opportunity — that is the role and responsibility of a for-profit, public company.”

Mellody Hobson, the president of Ariel Investments and an African-American member of the Starbucks board, was one of the featured faces of the campaign, speaking for about 15 minutes on the importance of discussing race. In talking about how difficult it can be to discuss race in public, she referred twice to the previous 24 hours as an example of such difficulty, apparently an allusion to the groundswell of criticism.

Neither Mr. Schultz nor Ms. Hobson altered their planned remarks to respond to the criticism, said Laurel Harper, a Starbucks spokeswoman.

The company also announced a 2-for-1 stock split — its first since 2005 and its sixth since it went public in 1992 — and shared some details on two new delivery services in Seattle and New York.

The company has said in statements that the “Race Together” initiative stems from a meeting that Mr. Schultz called in December at the company’s headquarters in Seattle to discuss racial tension. Police shootings involving the deaths of African-Americans and the ensuing racial tensions in Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island and Oakland, Calif., had turned race relations into a national conversation, and he said he wanted the gathering to provide an outlet for discussion.

Similar forums were later held for employees in Oakland, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and New York. After playing video clips from some of these meetings where employees voiced their own concerns, Mr. Schultz defended the campaign in closing out the shareholders meeting on Wednesday, contending that the company should take a leadership role on such social issues.

The company began introducing the effort in its brick-and-mortar stores on Monday, encouraging its baristas to write “Race Together” on customers’ coffee cups and pushing them to hand out stickers with that slogan to customers. USA Today has produced a special section on the initiative that will be available in Starbucks stores starting on Friday. Starbucks said it would support employees who engaged with customers on the issue, though it is not directly asking employees to do so.

“This is a provocation,” Dean Crutchfield, a senior vice president at Sterling Brands, a brand consulting firm, said of the campaign. “If it’s successful, it will be an everlasting impression of Starbucks. It bolsters the fact that they’re a purpose-driven brand.”

Starbucks is far from the only corporation to address social issues in widespread campaigns. Coca-Cola, for instance, has tried to promote peace and harmony dating from the 1970s with commercials featuring the song “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony).”

But the “Race Together” effort illustrates how Mr. Schultz is increasingly injecting the company and himself into national issues, even though he dismissed criticism that he was pursuing a political agenda. In October 2013, during the government shutdown, for instance, he introduced a petition asking Congress to pass a budget deal by the end of the year. He has also tried to keep guns out of its coffee shops and has strongly supported veterans and same-sex marriage.

“If you look at the history of Starbucks and you think about what their brand has been about, they’ve taken a position and a point of view on important social issues,” said Jim Stengel, a business consultant and former chief marketing officer at Procter & Gamble. The difference here, he said, is that the effort could clash with consumers’ wishes — to order, wait silently and leave the shop within minutes.

“I just wonder about this particular tactic of trying to get a discussion going between barista and consumer when at least half the consumers are trying to get out of there quickly,” he said.

Such unprompted discussions on race have caused particular trepidation.

“There’s very little being said about how baristas have been trained and are preparing for these conversations,” said Rinku Sen, the executive director of Race Forward, a national nonprofit organization that campaigns for racial justice. “I give them a lot of credit for engaging. I think there are some missing pieces for the plan.”

Ms. Harper, the Starbucks spokeswoman, said Mr. Schultz delivered a video through a retail portal to all the company’s employees on the initiative, but no formal training on the matter.

By other measures, Starbucks appears to be doing well. For the quarter ended Dec. 28, the company reported operating income of $915.5 million, up from $813.5 million in the period a year earlier. Revenue increased 13 percent, to $4.8 billion.

Still, the company is searching for new revenue streams, facing stiffer competition from rivals as it moves into higher-end coffees. With the race campaign, the brand may have been looking for a way to break away from its competitors, said Jeetendr Sehdev, who teaches at the University of Southern California.

“This is not about starting a conversation. This is about coffee wars,” he said. “The sole objective here is to try to increase the brand’s cultural relevance.”

If the initiative’s goal was to drum up attention, it has already proved successful. The hashtag RaceTogether topped Twitter’s trending list on Wednesday.

The question is whether the campaign will thrive on social media. At a Starbucks in Lower Manhattan, many customers had Race Together stickers on their cups, but only a few who were interviewed seemed to understand their meaning. “They just put it and they don’t explain what it is,” said Igor Santos, 44. “I thought it was just advertising.”


Jeetendr was interviewed on the Starbuck's Race Together campaign in The New York Times.  View the original article here. 


ALL RISE! THE SUNDAY TIMES INTERVIEWS JEETENDR ON THE OSCARS

Oscar Brits Leave Baddie Image Behind

John Harlow | The Sunday Times

IT WAS once said that British actors made good baddies in Hollywood, but new research suggests they are now seen as more “charming, intelligent and honest” than their American rivals. Ahead of tonight’s Academy film awards in Los Angeles, a study by academics at the University of Southern California has provided an explanation as to why the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, Felicity Jones and Rosamund Pike are so popular. Americans apparently find them up to seven times more likeable than the thespians from their own country. After asking 15,000 Americans more than 100 questions, researchers calculated that British nominees are perceived as 23% more talented than their largely American rivals.

Jeetendr Sehdev, professor of marketing at the University of Southern California, said: “We have cut through Hollywood’s smoke and mirrors . . . to find out what Americans really think — which is that they are twice as likely to recommend watching the Oscars to see a British star than an American nominee.

“When Americans thought of a British actress a decade ago it was Judi Dench: now it’s Rosamund Pike. Ideas of beauty have changed. Years ago Cumberbatch might have been a character actor; now he has ‘Cumberbitches’, or female followers.

“Our research suggests that Britons are seen as not just smart and sophisticated, but also increasingly sexy and confident, real global movie stars.”

British talent will be competing in almost every category tonight. Roger Deakins, the Devon-born cinematographer, has been nominated for his 12th Oscar for Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken. Two British micro-budget movies, The Phone Call and Boogaloo and Graham, have been nominated for best short, while Mr Turner has been nominated for four technical Oscars.

Yet the headlines will be made by actors, including Redmayne and Cumberbatch who are battling it out for the best actor award, Jones and Pike for best actress and Keira Knightley for best supporting actress in The Imitation Game.

According to bookmakers in Las Vegas, Redmayne’s portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything has a narrow lead over Michael Keaton’s performance in Birdman.

Apart from his physically arduous role playing Hawking, a $15m (£10m) film which has earned $100m at the box office, Redmayne “leads the pack in being perceived as a classic British talent with a twist”, Sehdev said.

“He is seen as twice as charming as Michael Keaton, five times more cultured than Steve Carell [nominated for the wrestling drama Foxcatcher] and seven times more imaginative than Bradley Cooper [star of American Sniper]. Americans find him different in a non-alienating way.

“Hollywood had not embraced big lips and freckles on a leading man until Eddie arrived.”

By contrast, many of the best-known British actors in recent decades, such as Christopher Lee, Anthony Hopkins and Mark Strong, have played movie baddies.

None of the five British nominees for top acting Oscars attended a pre-awards reception on Friday night. Redmayne, who is filming in north Africa, flew into Los Angeles yesterday morning.

There were, however, a host of celebrities at Tom Ford’s fashion show in Hollywood, including best actress nominees Julianne Moore and Reese Witherspoon, along with Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Elton John and Naomi Campbell.

Ford said he would be creating “one specific design” for the red carpet. “Oscar dressing has become a little bit safe,” he said.

“The biggest success for an actress is not to make any mistakes and not to have anyone . . . talk about how horrible you look.”

In a tight race, Cumberbatch, who is nominated for his portrayal of Alan Turing, the codebreaker, in The Imitation Game, lost ground earlier this month after he referred to black actors as “coloured”.

Sehdev does not believe it will hamper him in the long term. “Women find him charming and trustworthy, while men see him as reliable and cool,” he said.

British women, Sehdev added, were this year perceived as desirable and tough.

They also score up to three times higher than Witherspoon, nominated for best actress for Wild, and Moore, the frontrunner for her portrayal of an Alzheimer’s victim in Still Alice, for their perceived “trustworthiness and stylishness”.

“Felicity, Rosamund and Keira are all seen as no-nonsense women who know their craft but also what they want,” said Sehdev.


Jeetendr was interviewed on The 87th Academy Award nominees for the front page article in The Sunday Times. View the original article here


WWD STUDY: JEETENDR SAYS "AN OSCAR WIN BOOSTS BRAND SALES BY 1.5%"

Study: Oscar Win Lifts Brand Paydays 

Evan Clark | Women's Wear Daily

An Academy Award win not only gives actors a major career boost, the gold statuette also makes them much more persuasive and valuable brand ambassadors. While that has always been suspected, a new study from celebrity branding expert Jeetendr Sehdev quantifies just what an Oscar can bring to a brand. And it’s a lot.

Sehdev found that having an ambassador who took home the award for best actor, best actress or one of the supporting roles boosts a brand’s annual sales by 1.5 percent on average.

The study suggests that Lupita Nyong’o’s win for best supporting actress in “12 Years a Slave” brought in an additional $63 million in sales for Lancôme over the past year, while Giorgio Armani saw a $37 million boost from Cate Blanchett’s best actress nod for “BlueJasmine.”

“It’s a remarkable payoff,” said Sehdev, a marketing professor at the University of Southern California who keeps close watch on consumer opinion.

With all those sales dollars up for grabs, Dior executives on Sunday will have their fingers crossed just as much as Marion Cotillard, who’s up for an award for her role in “Two Days, One Night.” And Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry will be pulling all the more for Felicity Jones, nominated for her performance in “The Theory of Everything.”

Once the parties die down on Monday, reps for the actors might be looking to renegotiate their brand deals.

“Talent agencies, [chief marketing officers] have really been working in the pitch black,” Sehdev said. “Now at least they have a guide on their negotiations.”

To make this connection between award and cash register, Sehdev used what’s known as an intervention model, which takes into account the impact of advertising by the brand and its competitors, any price promotions by the brand or in the market, and the intensity of those promotions. Data from Nielsen was used to calculate weekly sales, price promotions and monthly advertising expenditures.

The financial impact of Oscar’s coattails is a tribute to the brand built around the award itself.

“An Oscar has an enormous symbolic value,” Sehdev said. “There is so much credibility and trust that has been building in the Oscar brand over the years. It is the ultimate for an actor and I think people recognize that it embodies the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality of Hollywood.”

He said that Oscar winners are seen as 62 percent more admired, 40 percent less disliked, 25 percent cooler and 37 percent more trusted than non-Oscar winners.

Not all Oscar winners were created equal, though. 

Sehdev said brands that hire megastars who win Oscars see a bigger gain in sales than those that link up with a newcomer who happens to strike it big with the Academy.

But the effect is fleeting. Sehdev said the boost from a brand ambassador’s Oscar halo lasts for 12 to 14 months and has decreasing returns.


Jeetendr's study appeared as an exclusive in Women's Wear Daily. View the original article here 


VARIETY: 80% OF AMERICA SAY BRIAN WILLIAMS MUST GO REVEALS JEETENDR

Survey: 80% Say Brian Williams Should Lose His Anchor Seat

Shelli Weinstein | Variety

Brian Williams may have a hard time retaining his popularity with viewers considering the results of a survey commissioned by Variety regarding the news anchor’s false claims to have been on a helicopter shot down by enemy fire in Iraq.

An overwhelming 80% think that Williams should no longer continue as a news anchor for NBC, according to a survey conducted Thursday by celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev, who polled 1,000 people who either watched or read the anchor’s apology.

If Williams keeps his seat in the anchor chair, he will have to face an uphill climb to regain viewers trust. Seventy percent  of respondents surveyed by do not believe that Williams will overcome the mistake.

Eight out of 10 respondents reported that they will now struggle to believe what Williams says following his admission that he “made a mistake in recalling the events 12 years ago,” as he said during his Wednesday night newscast.

Seventy percent  did not describe Williams’ apology as sincere, with 60% believing that the anchor attempted to minimize the significance of his fabricated story in his apology.

Sehdev interpreted the result as a reflection that transparency, authenticity and responsiveness are the most critical elements of credibility in this case, even though Williams is still considered an experienced journalist.

“It’s no surprise that super savvy audiences today didn’t believe Williams’ scripted ‘fog of memory’ explanation or his apology. Williams didn’t tell the story to thank a ‘special veteran’ but falsified the story to celebrate himself,” noted Sehdev.

Half of the respondents believed that Williams changed his story in order to present himself as a hero, with slightly more answering that his celebrity status does not help his credibility.

The survey yielded one optimistic note for Williams: six out of 10 respondents indicated they would be willing to forgive him.


Jeetendr was interviewed by Variety on the Brian Williams reporting scandal. View the original article here


WATCH: JEETENDR ON JUSTIN

Jeetendr talk about Justin Bieber's big apology on The Today Show.

WHAT IS SEXY? JEETENDR REVEALS ALL TO GLAMOUR

A New Study Redefines What's Sexy-and Courage Really Matters

Leah Melby | Glamour Magazine

I just got my highlighter out and went at a new study that landed on my desk, college-student style (that's how fascinated I was). Conducted by Jeetendr Sehdev, a branding expert and professor at USC, it questioned 10,000 men and women from Asia to Australia on what makes someone sexy, and the results make me so hopeful about humanity.

Qualities like mystery and the ability to make a partner laugh, long thought of as core, accepted sexy factors, are out (7 in 10 women reported that they can make themselves laugh, thankyouverymuch). Instead, courage matters more than confidence to 75 percent of respondents as it shows someone's flaws in a positive light and makes them relatable. Honesty was found to be eight times sexier than intelligence, and 7 out of 10 people agreed that individuality, shown by going against the mainstream and taking risks, was "super sexy." Also fascinating: Men considered ambition in women sexier than the reverse, with 52 percent saying it's attractive for challenging traditional gender-based stereotypes.

The top 10 sexy characteristics:

  1. Vulnerability
  2. Courage
  3. Individuality
  4. Beauty
  5. Honesty
  6. Ambition
  7. Spontaneity 
  8. Spirituality
  9. Passion
  10. Experimentation

I'm not as naive to think physical traits aren't involved—they totally are. Sixty-eight percent of people agreed that an attractive body is as important as a beautiful face to being considered sexy, but there's some interesting reasoning behind that. People questioned said an in-shape physique correlated to discipline and hard work in the gym, both of which hinted at a good work ethic (something found sexy on its own).

The results broken done by area showed that North America found ambition to be its top sexy characteristic (Europe cared most about compassion, Asia spirituality, and Australia courage).


Jeetendr's study appeared as an exclusive in Glamour magazine. View the original article here


JEETENDR'S BRAND AID MAKEOVER TIPS IN MORE MAGAZINE

Brand Aid: Makeovers That Kick It Up a Notch

Virginia Sole-Smith | More Magazine

Five real women + five branding challenges + five innovative experts = more than a dozen tips for taking it to the next level

Your Brand Is Too Old (and Too Female) for This Industry

Chia-Lin Simmons believes in her vision for her fashion-focused social-networking start-up, and she is fighting hard to get the money to launch it. “Venture capitalists throw their cash at hoodie-wearing guys in their twenties,” says Simmons, 41, who is also a marketing executive at Google. “I need help making my personal brand stand out when I recruit investors.” The good news: Simmons doesn’t have to wear sweatshirts. “You can’t change your gender or age,” says Jacqueline Peros, owner of JMP Branding in New York City. “We need to position Chia-Lin as a visionary who can inspire that younger demographic.”   

Steps Forward

Style Yourself: “Chia-Lin needs to be fashion forward with her wardrobe to project a more energetic presence,” Peros says. “An asymmetrical blazer in a bright color or a dramatic statement necklace would show that she’s strong, bold and polished.”    

Say It With Feeling: “Every communication needs to have a strong point of view,” says Peros. Instead of just retweeting and linking to articles, Simmons should share her own ideas. Whenever she speaks publicly, she should smile and radiate enthusiasm.   

Show Your Personality: Simmons’s Twitter bio, LinkedIn profile and personal website say nothing about who she is in real life and what she stands for. She needs to figure out the adjectives that define her personal brand, then inject them everywhere.

Your Name Is Too Common to Stand out on Line

Google Karen Carter, 43, and you’ll find a state senator, a filmmaker and a -professor—which means it’s too hard to find this Karen Carter, even though she’s one of the highest-ranking women at Dow Chemical Co., a $57 billion corporation. “We need to make her successes stand out,” says Dan Schawbel, managing partner of Millennial Branding and the author of Promote Yourself.

Steps Forward

Rebrand as Karen S. Carter: “Karen needs to put her middle initial on her LinkedIn profile, email signature, business cards—everything,” Schawbel says.    

Know Your Brand's Keywords: Carter chose the words marketing, operations and international business to define her brand; she needs to use them everywhere.   

Go for Quality in Your Audience: “Karen needs to tweet content that’s related to her keywords,” says Schawbel. “When she focuses her Twitter content, people will know why they’re following her.”

You Want Your Brand to Pack Even More Punch

Jayne Juvan, 34, a partner at a Cleveland law firm, already has a strong brand. She has solid followings on Twitter (2,986) and LinkedIn (500+), has been selected as one of Crain’s 40 under 40 and is acknowledged by industry publications as a “rising star” in the field of transactional law. Juvan now wants to take her brand to the next level. Her goal: to be known as a thought leader in the world of mergers and acquisitions, corporate law, governance and social responsibility. Wendy Terwelp, president of the career-development and personal-branding firm Opportunity Knocks (www.knocks.com), near Milwaukee, says Juvan can accomplish that in two ways: by achieving greater personal exposure, both on- and offline, and by more effectively shaping her online profile

Launch JayneJuvan.com: Juvan’s Google results currently include articles she wrote early in her career that are unrelated to her current work focus. To push those older results further down the Google search engine pipeline, Juvan should set up a personal website (which people will be likely to look at because it will rank high in a search of her name) and populate it with new content. Then, when people search her name, they’ll find a wealth of information all in one place: her personal site, where Juvan can control what they see and how she is perceived. “To keep the site active, she should link it with every article she publishes, every conference where she’s a speaker,” says Terwelp. Juvan can also blog on the site regularly.

Repurpose Content: Another way Juvan can gain maximum exposure is to repurpose the content she creates (she writes for various outlets, including the industry-news site Law.com). “Repurposing” can mean anything from using information in her articles as the subject of future speeches to posting the articles themselves across multiple platforms—other business websites, social media, etc. The goal is to get increased personal exposure from each piece of content she creates, says Terwelp.

Be Her Own Publicist: Juvan already does a lot of public speaking. Her next step is to promote every appearance she makes across social media platforms two weeks in advance, says Terwelp. After each appearance, she can turn her speech into an article and post it to her firm’s website, her own site and the other outlets for which she writes.

You've Neglected Your Brand

Although she’s now a high-powered university executive, 52-year-old Rena Costones knows that her story isn’t being communicated as well as she’d like. “My focus has been on growing my career,” Costones admits. “I know that I’ve ignored social media and everything else that would help me present myself more effectively.” Boston-based brand strategist and personal-bio expert Kirsten Vernon says Costones’s problem is a common one: “Busy, successful professionals often feel they don’t have the time to manage their brand—but it is what propels you to that next level.”

Steps Forward

Work Hard On Your Bio: “A great bio gives you a clear story to tell, which stays consistent at every event and on every social media platform,” Vernon says. “Three things must be evident in your bio: what you do, who you do it for and why it’s unique.” 

Upgrade Your Look: “Your appearance needs to reflect your personality and who you are while respecting what is appropriate in your professional environment,” says Vernon. “Rena could work with an image consultant trained in branding.”   

Bring Offline Networking Skills Online: “Rena is already a skilled networker and knows that doing it well is about giving,” Vernon says. “If she can gather her network together online, she’ll make those connections in a more advanced way.”

Your Powerful Brand Needs to Get Stronger

As the founder of Skinny Kitchen, a nutrition and recipe site, Nancy Fox, 50, has already built a devoted following, with more than 570,000 page views per month on her website. But Los Angeles–based branding authority Jeetendr Sehdev, who has worked with Verizon, Dove and American Express, says Fox is trying too hard to please everyone—which means her true personal brand is getting lost.

Steps Forward

Be Disruptive: Skinny Kitchen’s “cheat the system” message works well, says Sehdev. “It’s unapologetic and brave, and like any great brand, it connects with the audience emotionally.”   

Get Narrow To Go Big: Fox knows that one of her key demographics is thirty- and forty-something Weight Watchers fans. In focusing on that audience, Fox may connect less with sophisticated foodies, but that will ultimately help her stand out.

Consider The Competition: “Look at how other companiesuse colors, music and language to evoke an emotional response,” Sehdev says. “As a challenger brand, Nancy can draw inspiration from Virgin America, Method Soap and SoulCycle, all of which have gone up against very big competitors.” 


Jeetendr was interviewed by More magazine on his brand makeover tips. View the original article here