Victoria’s Secret and Pink brands CEO Amy Hauk will leave the company at the end of March, less than a year after taking on the position, according to a Jan. 3 filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hauk notified the company of her decision on Dec. 27, according to the filing. Her responsibilities will be assumed by Martin Waters, the current CEO of Victoria’s Secret & Company. Hauk served as the Pink brand CEO since 2018 until she was appointed to serve as CEO of the Victoria’s Secret brand as well in July.
The announcement comes in the wake of the company’s $400 million acquisition of Adore Me, Inc., an internet-based lingerie startup launched in 2011. The move is part of an effort to use social media and its Gen Z customer base to help in its ongoing rebranding campaign.
Victoria’s Secret, the largest lingerie retailer in the United States, was started in 1977 by Roy Raymond in San Francisco. This was the year the company launched its highly successful “Angels” campaign. Today, the company has over 1,000 stores across the United States and controls one-third of the women’s lingerie market on a global scale. The lingerie brand that targets younger women, Pink, is the company’s primary product line.
However, Victoria’s Secret has come under attack in recent years, primarily for a string of controversial advertising campaigns and a failure to appeal to a wider customer base.
In 2014, backlash ensued after one Victoria’s Secret ad campaign featured a row of thin models standing in a row wearing nothing but push-up bras and panties. The caption read: “The Perfect Body.” Critics slammed the ad for perpetuating unrealistic body standards. Over 32,000 people signed a petition requesting an apology from Victoria’s Secret and an effort to “amend the irresponsible marketing.” A month later, the company placed a new slogan—“A Body For Every Body”—over the same photo.
In 2018, Victoria’s Secret faced another firestorm after Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek said in an interview with Vogue magazine that the company had no interest in using transgender or plus-size models in their advertising. Even after Razek issued an apology on social media, Victoria’s Secret announced that then-CEO Jan Singer would be resigning after just two years with the company.
In 2019, citing a “decline in performance” following its refusal to embrace transgender and plus-sized models, Victoria’s Secret announced it would be closing 53 stores. Victoria’s secret founder Leslie Wexner’s ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein caused more problems. By 2020, the company was sold to a private equity firm for $525 million. In 2021, Victoria’s Secret came under heavy fire from conservatives after the company named LGBTQ activist and soccer player Megan Rapinoe as a brand ambassador, adding to its list of diversity figures along with trans model Valentia Sampaio.
Most recently, Hauk herself came under fire after she posted an open letter on social media on Aug. 11 to TikTok singer/songwriter and “American Idol” alum Jaclyn Cole Miskanic, most commonly known as Jax. Her song, “Victoria’s Secret”—in which she calls out the lingerie giant for pushing unrealistic body standards—had just gone viral.
“I want to thank Jax for addressing important issues in her lyrics,” Hauk said in her letter. “We make no excuses for the past, and we’re committed to regaining your trust.”
She said “transition is a journey” and that they were working every day “to advocate for all women,” including the 25,000 women who worked for Victoria’s Secret.
Despite the announcement of Hauk’s resignation, Victoria’s Secret stock closed at 32.44, up 1.6 percent. On July 1, the first month Hauk became CEO, Victoria’s Secret stock closed at 27.98.