The Honeyshed experiment is over. Today Publicis pulled funding for the venture.
For some time, I had a minor obsession with Honeyshed. The idea was described as “QVC Meets MTV.” It’s really a bunch of attractive hipsters talking about products. The vibe was strange, the girls are hot and the commerce is overt.
The Publicis-Droga5-Smuggler venture was very different, very risky. The content is strange and the business model is different. This is an instance of an agency actually creating a media property, not just running a campaign for a client. It had the possibility of marrying branded entertainment + e-commerce + performance advertising. Too many people in the ad industry, in my experience, complain about the status quo without doing a thing to change it. Honeyshed, for all its many flaws, didn’t do that.
It’s easy to criticize Honeyshed. The content is often criticized as bizarre. The site was initially very much an island while the Internet was moving to a share-and-share-alike mode. Then there’s the tiny problem of business model. How much will Honeyshed need to sell in order to support this kind of production? Publicis brought in former Digitas promotions exec David Griefer to turn Honeyshed into a real business. I wrote about his efforts with the relaunch in November.
The content undoubtedly improved. I’m not the target, so I have no clue if hipster kids are into this stuff. Numbers, though, don’t lie. According to ComScore, Honeyshed drew 117,000 visitors on the back on an aggressive relaunch marketing plan. But then the news turns bad: the site doesn’t seem keeping visitors. Check out Quantcast:
By Honeyshed’s own standards, it was falling woefully short. Honeyshed’s projections called for the site to reach 550,000 visitors a month after launch, and 1 million by February.
Even by less quantitative standards, I didn’t find many positive signs. Honeyshed has 257 followers on Twitter, the amount some bloggers add in a weekend. The Honeyshed Blog draws no comments. Things aren’t much better at the Honeyshed Beauty Blog. There are few signs of buzz about Honeyshed on blogs or Twitter.
Maybe Honeyshed was ahead of its time. CEO Steve Greifer mostly pinned its downfall on the bad economy. Maybe, although I don’t know if it would have worked in any economy. What would you change about Honeyshed to make it successful?