Did Honeyshed Try Too Hard to Be Cool or Did It Not Try at All?

Shopping Site Needs to Lose the Posturing and Clumsy Pandering

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

There are two possibilities:

1) We are so old and decrepit that our prostate is actually having a gravitational effect on our judgment. This is not to be discounted. Our favorite song is "Stardust."

2) The new online shopping site Honeyshed is an embarrassment to all concerned, including the target audience, but especially David Droga, partner and creative chief of the enterprise.

Honeyshed describes itself as home shopping for the "digital generation," which means they watch "Project Runway" on cable and everything else on their computers and telephones.
Title: Honeyshed.com
stars
Agency: In-house
OMG, is there anything in marketing more painful to witness than generational slumming?
If they are female, they elongate the last syllable of words and cultivate a weird larynx quaver. If they are males, no matter how white and suburban they might be, they borrow vocabulary and pronunciation from 50 Cent, knowwhatI'msayin'? They can't use the word "abbreviation" in a sentence, but they can use LMAO as a sentence. They are self-involved, ignorant of the world around them and criminally brand-obsessed.

They are all named Courtney.

Got the picture? Now, maybe you think that's stereotyping, maybe just a bit reductive to describe about 30 million Americans of all races, creeds and wireless plans. Somebody should make the same point to Honeyshed, which seems to have informed itself about an entire generation exclusively by watching the final six broadcasts of "Total Request Live."

The site is organized as a video screen surrounded by channel options: beauty, girl fashion, music, shoes and hats (oops, make that "kicks to lids," as the heppest dawgs like to groove, daddio). Click on one, and something horrible happens: The video begins, whereupon you are assaulted with a hip-hop or techno soundtrack and talentless, torturously fashionable 19-year-olds talking up the product.

It's not just the forced lifestyle references and jargon (for a Puma sneaker: "You can wear this to the club. You can wear this while you get jiggy. You can wear it just to have a latte"). It's also the jump cuts, the "outrageous" costumes, the random bits of absurdity thrown in willy-nilly to establish the sales drones' "personalities" and postmodern self-awareness/irony bona fides. When some nerd in a red windbreaker opens the offer for a "Donnie Brasco" DVD with a little beat-box riff, it's supposed to be random and funny.

It's sure not funny, and it isn't random, either. To experience Honeyshed is to be aware of a lot of ad-agency grown-ups and near-grown-ups trying very, very hard to amuse almost-near-grown-ups. OMG, is there anything in marketing more painful to witness than generational slumming? Sure, vast swaths of the youthful are indeed shallow, vain and repulsively acquisitive as never before. And, as we so love to observe, exactly half of them are dumber than average. But even the most superficial Courtney out there can recognize the act of clumsy pandering in progress.

And so gigantically unnecessary.

Obviously the idea is to combine selling and entertainment, but this misses the even more obvious: QVC, which is one skeezy home-shopping sales pitch after another for one cheesy product after another, works for a frightening chunk of the population because for them shopping is entertainment -- for the 14-to-21 demographic more than most. After all, their social lives are largely built around The Mall. It is the town square, amusement park and church sprawled into one.

Dude, lose the patter. Lose the quirkiness. Lose the posturing altogether. Choose talent based not on their look but on their ability to sell, sell, sell crap to those bored teenagers with more credit cards than sense.

In other words: Hey, you kids! You snotty little ... GET OFF OF MY SCREEN!

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Droga5 as the agency responsible for Honeyshed. Honeyshed is a joint venture of Publicis Groupe, Droga5 and Smuggler. The site was created in-house.