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Owner of Victoria’s Secret asked to make Ohio’s image sexier

By Mark Niquette
Bloomberg News

COLUMBUS: Ohio, known for heavy industry, is turning for marketing help to the owner of a company known for push-up bras.

Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday said Les Wexner, founder of Columbus-based L Brands Inc., which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, has agreed to help sell Ohio, which the governor said is overlooked.

While California has an ocean, the Buckeye State’s charms often aren’t discovered unless someone moves there and “the cool factor matters,” Kasich said.

“I don’t know whether we’re going to have a Victoria’s Secret-type marketing plan for Ohio, but it isn’t a bad thought, is it?” Kasich said during a year-end review event with legislative and Ohio Chamber of Commerce leaders.

Kasich said while the details of what Wexner would do haven’t been worked out, the two men had a conversation and Wexner said he would “take a whack at it.”

“The guy’s a brilliant marketer, and we couldn’t have anybody better,” Kasich told reporters after the event.

Victoria’s Secret took the peignoir to the public, making itself a cultural phenomenon by selling lacy undergarments through mail-order catalogs and shopping malls. Now it sponsors an annual fashion show on national television featuring lingerie-clad models in angel wings — more than 7 million households watched it this month — and the company even has an outlet at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium.

L Brands operates more than 2,600 stores in the U.S., and its brands are sold in about 800 company-operated and franchised locations worldwide, according to the company.

Wexner, 76, an Ohio native and billionaire who started L Brands as a single store in Columbus in 1963, wasn’t available to discuss the marketing effort, L Brands said in an email.

People who move to Ohio often don’t want to leave because of the low cost of living and other amenities, Kasich said. Yet it can be difficult to attract businesses and workers from elsewhere, he said.

“It’s getting them here to understand what we have, and Les Wexner is going to help us,” Kasich said.


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