Victoria has a new secret: You can be too sexy.
The racy lingerie chain, whose catalogue, store windows and hot runway shows have become a favorite for some men, intends to tone it down because disappointing 2007 sales indicate that it has become less of a favorite of women shoppers.
Sales at Victoria's Secret fell 2 percent overall for 2007, and 8 percent in the fourth quarter.
But it's not easy to stop being sexy.
"It would be easier for Britney Spears to change her image than for Victoria Secret to change their image," said advertising executive Jerry Della Femina. "They are trying to disprove the old adage: sex sells," he said, adding that he thinks it's doubtful the store will succeed in shaking its hyper-sexy reputation.
Since the 1990s, the brand has become decidedly more racy. In the latest catalogue, the word "sexy" is used more than 75 times, but the pictures alone tell the story.
Compare these 1996 images with the current Victoria's Secret advertising campaign.
CEO Sharen Turney says one problem is that the word "sexy" is used too much.
Turney said Victoria's Secret wants to increase its level of sophistication. "We will also reinvent the sleepwear business and focus on product quality," she said.
The company is hoping to continue to focus on younger shoppers with its successful Pink line of lingerie and loungewear, created for college-age women.
Roy Raymond launched the chain in 1977 in San Francisco. He said he was embarrassed trying to buy lingerie for his wife and hoped to provide a comfortable place for men to shop.
Initially Victoria was marketed as an aristocratic woman who lived in London.
ABC News Correspondent Andrea Canning asked women in New York yesterday if they thought Victoria has gotten too sexy. "Who wears lingerie pajamas with high heel shoes?" one woman responded.
Last month's Super Bowl ad was may have been a preview of the more-clothed looks to expect.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.