May 2008 - Rick Petry

Pimp Nation

Recently, Girls Gone Wild’s Joe Francis offered $1 million to Ashley Alexandra Dupre if the call girl who rendered Eliot Spitzer’s repute ill would perform for Francis’ cameras. The offer was withdrawn when he giddily discovered that she already had, a stroke of fortune he compared to finding the winning lottery ticket in his couch cushions. Like Francis, the brain trust behind, an online home shopping network likened to “MTV meets QVC,” appears to be banking on sex appeal to make bank. It sells.

Honeyshed isn’t home shopping of the blue-haired variety, unless that blue hair is arranged in a mohawk. The brainchild of SoHo adman David Droga, Honeyshed has been percolating in beta form for nearly a year and is set to come out of the wardrobe closet in June with a splashy online campaign. If Ron Popeil and Ludacris had their brains fused and deposited into a nubile body on the set of “Wayne’s World,” you’d have Honeyshed, an unabashedly self-conscious, skit-laden format targeted toward 18- to 34-year-olds, where “stash” is sold.

Honeyshed’s so-hip-it-hurts positioning has caught a lot of flack from the blogosphere. But will it sell product? Who knows-I once met a pair of millionaire midgets with an infomercial advocating buying real estate being sold, well, short. One person’s cringe fest represents another’s opportunity to sell out. After all, who hasn’t heard someone speculate about who actually buys from the likes of QVC? The answer is two-part: 1) my mother and 2) enough like her to make it the second-largest TV network revenue generator. There’s gold in them Quacker Factory sweaters.

But appliqué clothing is not on Honeyshed’s mind, unless, perhaps, it’s laden with irony instead of ironing-free and pitched with anti-intellectual glibness designed to “keep it real.” And while Honeyshed has been erected seemingly without any involvement from the traditional DRTV crowd, like rappers with worn-out themes of excess, it could learn a few things from the old school. “Honeyshed is based on the idea that people love brands and they don’t mind being sold to if it’s transparent,” comments Droga. Welcome to our world, post-modern Mad Man, but know this: consumers love two things more. They love something they cannot have (so get thy scarcity in order) and, most of all, they love a bargain. How else do you explain America’s willingness to export all our manufacturing jobs in favor of cheaper goods?

Neither one of these two critical elements is currently being leveraged by the ’shed even though a generation suckled at the teat of the Internet is savvy about exclusivity and price. You don’t get hipster points for paying retail, unless your friends gape at the point of purchase. And while Honeyshed makes that possible in a cyber community sort of way, what’s the point if it means your purchase power is lessened when everybody would rather lather in more instant gratification? A tribe for Honeyshed may develop yet; in the meantime, I’m sending smoke signals.

Rick Petry is the immediate past chair of ERA and a freelance writer and consultant. He can be reached at (503) 740-9065, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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