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Honeyshed: Neither Sticky Nor Sweet

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Billing itself as “MTV meets QVC,” Honeyshed made its debut in a soft launch last week. The idea behind the site is to create branded entertainment so transparent about the fact that it’s selling something that as a viewer, you don’t even care. As of now, however, all Honeyshed manages to be is as shallow as MTV — without QVC’s tacky fun.

The site is basically a series of infomercials in which a group of attractive young adults espouse the virtues of different products. They wax enthusiastic about everything from lip balm to comfy slippers, all without even a hint of irony.

Admittedly, the site is beta and so will change over the coming months; it plans to add stuff like sketch comedy, live segments and episodic content centered around brands. But slapping a beta tag on your logo doesn’t excuse deficiencies as glaring as those of Honeyshed.

Technically, the site works fine. Video is crisp. Audio is good. And when trying to buy a pair of 25th anniversary edition Reeboks, the path from Honeyshed to the Reebok store worked flawlessly.

One big technical aggravation is that the content starts as soon as you hit the page, dropping you into the middle of a vapid discussion about something like how everyone on the red carpet is wearing false eyelashes these days. And there’s no pause button to let you stop and get your bearings.

The bigger problem is that while the talking heads may be younger than their QVC counterparts, it’s essentially no different: people sitting around talking about products. Perfect products. Perfect products that have no drawbacks or weaknesses whatsoever, if you believe the hosts. And again, without the tacky fun.

In a jaded web 2.0 world, where everyone is a published critic and information is a mouse click away, to pretend that imperfections in products don’t exist makes these types of infomercials seem isolated from reality, anachronistic. No one sits around having these types of discussions. If you want to make the brand the center of the show, make the show something more than just a laundry list of why the product is so good.

For a company trying to reinvent the notion of entertainment and marketing, they are merely taking an antiquated method and slapping a fresh coat of lip balm on it.