A bold experiment in online shopping plastered an "Out of Business" sign across its virtual mall today when the Publicis Groupe announced it would suspend David Droga’s creative brainchild, Honeyshed.
The site, which paired Droga’s agency, Drogat5 and LA production hot shop, Smuggler—had a rocky launch in beta in November 2007, and never really found its footing. "It's fine to be optimistic and bold about something that's new in this space, but given the economic climate, the promise of certainty is more responsible than the allure of massive potential," Droga, the former worldwide chief creative officer of Saatchi & Saatchi, told Ad Age.
Before we went to LA to check out Honeyshed for a story, prior to its launch, then CEO Andrew Essex told us the site's concept was to be a sort of "MTV meets QVC." The idea was to field an ensemble cast of hip young people who could shill the merch (sexy underwear, trendy running shoes, lots of makeup) with the appropriate attitude and the more-than-occasional frisky innuendo. But the site was buggy, advertisers (mostly) were skeptical, and the comments section—which was supposed to replicate the thrill of shopping with a friend—most often had snarky posts dissing the whole thing.
Publicis CEO Maurice Levy was a huge backer—to the tune, it’s estimated, of more than $25M—but even he was worried. "Call me when you get back from L.A. and let me know what you think," he told me when I saw him in New York before the site’s launch. Even the help of Publicis sibling by proxy Digitas couldn’t get the thing chugging, nor could a new CEO Stephen Greifer, who came from the digital shop.
But don’t cry for Droga. In November, Puma awarded the shop its $100M global marketing account. The ad gods giveth, and the ad gods taketh away.