Edward G. Razek
1947 or 1948 (age 72–73)
|Education||Ohio State University|
|Years active||1983 - 2019|
|Known for||marketing lingerie|
Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Edward G. Razek (born 1947 or 1948) is an American businessperson known for his former role as the Chief Marketing Officer for L Brands where he developed the Victoria's Secret Angels and the company's annual fashion show. Razek joined L Brands in 1983 and resigned 2019 after persistent public criticism for creating a culture of misogyny and harassment.
Early life and education
Ed Razek grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and was raised by his father, a steel mill worker. He attended the Culver Military Academy in Indiana starting at age 12. Razek earned a degree in English at Ohio State University in the late 1960s.
Razek worked in advertising for several years at Shelly Berman Communicators (SBC Advertising, Inc.) in Columbus, Ohio. He was a partner with Shelly Berman and Bill Wickham at the agency. Among his early clients at Shelly Berman Comunicators was the clothing retailer Les Wexner of The Limited, Inc. (later known as L Brands). In 1983, Razek left SBC and joined in-house branding operations at the Limited.
In 1994, Wexner tasked Razek with developing a fashion show for one of the companies brands. The first fashion show took place in 1995 with the chosen brand, Victoria’s Secret. A somewhat modest affair for a risqué product at first, the fashion show, under Razek, transformed into spectacle and became an entertainment event, with peak viewership in 2001.
Razek was instrumental in selecting the brand’s models, known as "Angels" and bestowed with angel wings, and in creating the company’s TV ads.
Following a November 2018 interview with Vogue, Razek received strong and sustained criticism for his anachronistic marketing after he expressed an aversion to casting transgender and plus-sized models in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. In an era of MeToo and body positivity the backlash was severe, with calls for Razek to step down.
Victoria’s Secret was also bowing under the weight of Wexner’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein, following his arrest in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking. It emerged that Epstein used his connections to Wexner and Victoria's Secret, to prey on young women by posing as a recruiter. Executives had warned Wexner about this in the 1990s, but no action was taken. The business problems at Victoria’s Secret soon escalated into a public crisis. In 2019, an activist shareholder, CEO James A. Mitarotonda of Barington Capital Group, criticized Razek and pressured L Brands in an open letter to update the brand image and switch up the predominantly male board of directors at the company.
In response to the backlash against Razek, the company hired its first openly transgender model, Valentina Sampaio, in August 2019. Razek later apologized on social media and, in August 2019, he stepped down. In November 2019, the annual fashion show was officially canceled after running for over two decades of production.
In 2020, The New York Times reported that Razek "presided over an entrenched culture of misogyny, bullying, and harassment". Interviews with more than 30 current and former executives, employees, contractors and models alleged that Wexner and Razek played prominent roles in cultivating the toxic environment.
- Bramley, Ellie Violet (August 6, 2019). "Marketing boss quits Victoria's Secret after first trans model hired". The Guardian. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
- Safdar, Khadeeja (2019-08-05). "Edward Razek, Victoria's Secret Parent's Longtime Marketing Chief, to Resign". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Katherine Rosman, Sapna Maheshwari, James B. Stewart: ‘Angels’ in Hell: The Culture of Misogyny Inside Victoria’s Secret - A Times investigation found widespread bullying and harassment of employees and models. The company expresses “regret.”, The New York Times, 1 February 2020
- Acker, Suzanne Gravette (November 2004). "From the Archives: The Man Behind the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show". Columbus Monthly. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
- Showalter, Kathy (October 13, 1997). "Limited to spend $200M to brand several divisions". Columbus Business First. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
- Hanbury, Mary (March 15, 2019). "People slammed Victoria's Secret after its marketing chief made controversial comments about transgender models, but he didn't resign. This could be why, according to former executives". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
- Storey, Kate (2016-11-29). "The Untold History of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show". ELLE. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Schmidt, Ingrid (August 5, 2019). "Victoria's Secret Parent Company's Chief Marketing Officer Resigns". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
The 71-year-old executive, who has hand-picked Victoria’s Secret models for over 15 years . . .
- Gross, Elana Lyn. "What The Victoria's Secret Harassment Allegations Teach Us About Retaliation". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Cunningham, Erin (December 2, 2018). "Everyone Knows Victoria's Secret Is Falling Apart — Except the Brand Itself". InStyle. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Maheshwari, Sapna (2019-09-06). "Victoria's Secret Had Troubles, Even Before Jeffrey Epstein". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
- Hanbury, Mary (March 5, 2019). "An activist shareholder is urging Victoria's Secret parent to update 'tone-deaf' brand image to boost sales". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
- Ell, Kellie; Ell, Kellie (2019-10-09). "Victoria's Secret Hires First Plus-size Model, but Some Say It's Too Late". WWD. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Bramley, Ellie Violet (2019-08-06). "Marketing boss quits Victoria's Secret after first trans model hired". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
- Nicole Phelps: “We’re Nobody’s Third Love, We’re Their First Love”—The Architects of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show Are Still Banking on Bombshells, 8 November 2018
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