When I first started watching digital shopping network HoneyShed, I was resistant: I told myself I was just going to review its originally-produced commercials; I wasn’t going to get sucked into buying the products they promoted. Hours later, I was taking twice as long to write this review due to hopeless distraction over items like the Magic Microphones in “HoneyShed’s Daily Hookup,” and I realized I had been unwittingly devoured by an advertising machine that is creating a new genre of branded entertainment.

HoneyShed creeps up on you.  Just when you think you’re not going to sit through another commercial’s lame attempt at comedy, some product comes along that catches your eye. Suddenly, you’re involuntarily staring, wondering, drooling, and maybe even buying.


This is just a screenshot because HoneyShed embeds are really #$%ing annoying run on autoplay.

In beta since 2007 (with an official launch planned for summer 2008), HoneyShed is the brainchild of David Droga, owner of Droga5, an indie ad shop that, like HoneyShed, is funded by advertising industry heavyweight, France’s Publicis Groupe. The site developed as CEO Maurice Levy recognized that commercials and branding were shifting significantly into the digital realm. According to Fast Company magazine, Levy’s “goal was to make his company the industry’s premier digital-marketing outfit.”

The site spews nonstop, daily, in-studio commercials (made in L.A.) hocking trendy clothing, gadgets, cosmetics, DVDs, music, and other merchandise with an “MTV meets QVC” vibe.  The long-term goal is to build the site’s reputation as a tastemaker, so young, attractive, hip, and diverse hosts populate the channel and pimp products through skits, infomercials, “interviews,” spoofs, and improv.

###In place of imaginative concepts, many of these commercials resort to leggy women in small clothing, corny jokes, and unscripted sketches to “make the sell."   But for the young target audience that grew up in an era of loosely-structured reality TV, HoneyShed’s casual vibe will feel right on the money.  

HoneyShed breaks into smaller channels: Beauty, Tech Toys, Girl Fashion, Kicks and Lids, DVDs, Fun Shit, Daily Hookup, New This Week.  And if you really like something, you can either “Stash it” (to view, share, embed, or purchase later) or click the prominent “I Want It” button (which will link you directly to the vendor).  What could be most annoying about the first-time experience on HoneyShed is the inability to fast-forward or rewind any of the videos, which stream live one at a time on the site.

 

Internet advertising is on the rise (with $10 billion earned in the first half of 2007 alone), but a 24-7 shopping network still presents a risk. Firebrand, a joint venture shopping network from Microsoft, NBC Universal and GE, went under in March 2008.  In response, HoneyShed Chief Operating Officer Jeff Davidson said, “They spent too much money too quickly.  Wide spread adoption of video consumption via the Internet is still in its nascent stage and only companies with a solid business plan, sufficient start-up capital and a metered burn rate will survive.”

And Honeyshed just might.  The commercials may never reach SuperBowl quality, but even so, serious shoppers (and even the reluctant window-surfer) might find a thing or two they’d like to snatch up at HoneyShed.

Man, those Magic Microphones are looking good.

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