LOS ANGELES: Lane Bryant, the plus-size clothing retailer, has driven brand growth by actively championing women whose body types differ from stereotypical depictions of beauty.

Brian Beitler, the firm's EVP/CMO, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference.

More specifically, he reported that the retailer wanted to connect its brand with tackling issues such as body shaming, which too often "remains an acceptable form of discrimination" in society.

"It's one of one of the last remaining areas of diversity that [people] believe it's OK to discriminate against," Beitler said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: How Lane Bryant changed the fashion conversation.)

Lane Bryant sought to "take issue" with this pervasive attitude by celebrating women of various shapes and sizes through advertising, in reflection of its understanding that beauty takes many forms.

Continued Beitler: "What's projected in the media, and what's projected by our companies, are very narrow definitions of what beauty stood for.

"We see beautiful, skinny people: They litter the landscape of every advertisement, every television program, every media publication, every rock concert, every video."

Too often, he added, plus-sized women are reduced to background roles in popular culture, a form of stereotyping that Lane Bryant wants to address by depicting this audience in more dynamic – and accurate – roles.

"They were always typecast as the fat friend, as the funny one, but never as the leading lady – never as the person to [make an] impact or change in our culture, despite the fact that they represent the majority of the culture," Beitler said.

Building on this theme, he asserted that connecting Lane Bryant with such an underlying purpose could offer mutual benefits for the company and its customer alike.

"Being for a cause for a cause's sake will not last long in a brand," he explained to the ANA delegates, "because brands have to grow.

"So the cause that you stand up and support has to align in some way that's going to make your customer care more deeply about your brand and be able to drive forward."

Data sourced from Warc