— Katya Foreman
JUST GIVE US THE ADS: Traditional media still hems and haws about the separation between advertising and editorial, but advertisers continue to experiment with cutting out the middleman online by creating their own branded digital video. Enter Honeyshed, which is expected to go into beta Tuesday. It's a branded entertainment site operating under the assumption that people don't mind being sold to as long as it's transparent, and that multibrand channels by categories like beauty and sneakers will draw more eyes than a single brand platform like the site BudTV.
Those behind Honeyshed are advertising giant Publicis Groupe, video production company Smuggler and Droga5 — the agency last known to old media types from its collaborations with Esquire and the fact that its chief executive, Andrew Essex, edited Absolute and was executive editor at Details. Condé Nast's ShopVogue.tv is attempting a similar marriage of video content and commerce, but Essex emphasized the social networking aspect of his site (still in relative infancy — right now it's only a live chat room), its more interactive interface and the development of recurrent host personalities.
Drawn from the ranks of the model-actress hopefuls of Los Angeles, the young and nubile male and female hosts seem to spend most of their time giggling, kissing and wriggling in and out of clothes — at least in the demo material. No surprise, then, that Honeyshed has its eye on the 18- to 30-year-old demographic, with 22-year-olds being the key target. Besides, Essex said, QVC is full of giggling in the service of product pushing. "I've seen the term 'QVC on acid,'" he said of the demos, "and I'm oddly comfortable with that."
For its first phase, Honeyshed is featuring nonsponsored content, meaning all products were called in editorially, with the hope of generating an audience that will entice advertisers to buy space as a pure media play. As products appear just outside the video box, viewers can click to be redirected to a company site to purchase. Fashion and beauty brands featured in the beta programming include Adidas, Reebok, Maybelline and Shu Uemura. Once brands sign on, they'll also be able to repurpose all the content for their own sites.
— Irin Carmon