Dobrow Discovers He Doesn't Have a Shoe Fetish

Media Review for Media People: Shoetube

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When J.C.R. Licklider, Tim Berners-Lee, Al Gore and Mahir sat down together to build the internet a few years back, they envisioned many enlightening possibilities for their creation. Shoetube was almost certainly not one of them.
Shoetube's regular contributors devote their video face time to rhapsodizing about shoes, caressing shoes, gazing longingly at shoes, comparing shoes with one another, perhaps even wearing shoes.
Shoetube's regular contributors devote their video face time to rhapsodizing about shoes, caressing shoes, gazing longingly at shoes, comparing shoes with one another, perhaps even wearing shoes.

Offering a glut of semiprofessionally produced shoe videos, shoe blogs and shoe forums -- everything except the opportunity to purchase shoes directly -- the site presents itself as a girly shoe addict's wonderland for the online-video era. But while the concept makes sense in theory -- take an area of interest/fixation and hammer the bejesus out of it -- Shoetube tries so, so hard to build high-style energy into its video offerings that they come off as sad and small.

The site hews closely to its delusionally aspirational "Live life. Love shoes" mantra. Every video here is about shoes: work shoes, shoes for the gym, red shoes that the angels wanna wear, etc. Along those lines, Shoetube's regular contributors devote their video face time to rhapsodizing about shoes, caressing shoes, gazing longingly at shoes, comparing shoes with one another, perhaps even wearing shoes.

Too bad they have no more idea how to convey their enthusiasm than a coma patient does his dessert order. The site's personalities loooooooove shoes. You know this because they frequently, cloyingly, menacingly say things like "I love shoes" and "I love these shoes." If you love hearing well-appointed gals who love shoes affirm that they, indeed, love shoes, Shoetube may well be your high-heel utopia.

The "Your Shoe Videos" clips lower the discourse even further. Take the low-quality report from a "shoereading" event in which a published author -- really -- weighs in on the topic of "What do guys [sic] shoes say about them?" Apparently "condition and maintenance is really really important, 'cause it trickles down. ... If a guy's taking good care of his shoes, most likely he's going to take really good care of himself and you." Wow -- my dating prospects may be even more limited than I thought.

I don't buy the "Shoe of the Day" videos, either. They pose as informal gal-to-gal conversations, but even a cursory listen exposes them as scripted fluff. Take Tuesday's two-minute bit on a shiny Nike ballet-shoe dealie: "The shoe's upper is done in a silver metallic leather that's cut to fit the shape of the foot and lined with a very soft fabric. ... The padded foot bed and performance-traction, nonmarking sole makes this ballet flat swooshworthy." Does that sound off-the-cuff? If somebody asked me to informally expound on the Nikes I'm currently wearing, I imagine my spiel would go something like this: "These shoes fit well. I can tie and untie the laces without incident. And look right there, up by the toe -- that's either blister leakage or tomato sauce. That costs extra." Who tosses around color descriptions like "metallic pewter" in casual conversation?

Most of the rest of Shoetube reeks of neglect, especially the blogs. Fit & Feisty hasn't been updated since April 22, while the "Countdown to 'Sex and the City'" blog boasts roughly 12 posts total (and none since May 8). The forums similarly show few signs of life, with comment-bait entries such as "Shoe Crush Confessions" generating almost no responses. The blogs and forums may be kinda beside the point, what with the video focus and all. But if Shoetube can't be bothered to update sizable chunks of the site on a regular basis, it should dispense with that content altogether.

The shortfall of reader engagement makes Shoetube a dicey proposition for well-heeled (hoy-o!) marketer and cobbler alike. So far, the site seems to be doing decently enough on the ad front, with Choice Hotels International, Marshalls' "new shoe megashop," Yahoo's Shine website for women and Verizon Wireless popping up in a Googly-ad way on the home page. Sears (for its mattresses, of all things) and Sketchers intermittently pop up on the blogs.

I just don't see how a "sponsored by Jimmy Choo" nod prior to or alongside a Shoetube video would significantly affect a viewer's feelings about that brand. The best advertising high-end women's shoe manufacturers can get here is a rapturous mention in one of the videos -- and these raves are meted out every eight seconds. Everybody associated with shoes, with the exception of e-tailers, who could be the beneficiaries of impulse purchases (like the awesome Zappos, which sponsors the "Shoe of the Day" segment), oughta stay away.

It's easy to envision more bizarro ways for shoehounds to indulge their passion, like via online fan fiction ("The second the sleek, red Manolo with seven-inch heel saw the immaculately scuffed Dockside, she knew he was the one. Her parents wouldn't like her taking up with a poor shoe from down by the pier, of course, but his padded insole felt so right ... and yet so very wrong"). But at least those pursuits would signify clear insanity on the creator's part. Shoetube comes across nearly as out-there and amateurish but doesn't appear to realize it. It's a half-thought-out idea that doesn't merit your consideration.
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