Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
umair haque  


Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Strategic Errors: Honeyshed Mini Case Study

"Honeyshed is a broadband destination that celebrates the sell," says Andrew Essex, CEO of Droga5, who was left to field calls in the agency's offices in New York City and who describes the venture as "MTV meets QVC."

"There's a lot of so-called branded content out there, but it doesn't have many places to live," he says. "It gets lost on YouTube or it's like, a brand in isolation. In contrast, this is totally transparent and completely entertaining. It's overt advertising based on the idea that people love brands. They just don't necessarily love it when brands interrupt or deceive them. This will make brands the life of the party rather than the uninvited guest."


You can just see the boardroom erupting into cheers, back-slaps, and high-fives. Why, this is the greatest idea since, well, MTV or QVC.

Except, of course, it's not.

What are the numerous errors that Honeyshed is making?

1) It's dominated by diminishing return economics - it's just another mass media play in a micromedia world. In that mass media world, remember, MTV was QVC - they were basically the same business model for different domains (music vs consumer goods).

2) An utter and total lack of strategic imagination. This seemms innovative to the lumbering, sulking suits who inhabit today's media boardrooms because it looks conceptually like 2+2=50. From a strategic point of view, it's more like 0+0=-2.

3) A total disconnect with - and almost contempt for - with the new economics of brands. Brands must be shepherds of the hypersocial and the hypercultural in the next media economy. Seeing brands as "entertainment" is to entirely miss that deeper point.

4) People don't love brands. This is an elemental economic truth. If they did, firms wouldn't have to pay for advertising.

5) The biggie: the real Honeyshed - aka brands as consumption, rather than advertising nuisance costs, already exists. It just got funded last year, and it really is innovative.

Who it is really isn't important.

The point is that markets, networks, and communities are the chokepoints of the post-network economy. Honeyshed's ultimate failure is that it is none of these - it's just another lame, intert, rigid, channel.

How...MTV (or QVC).

-- umair // 10:45 AM // 12 comments


So close, and yet so far.

It's bizarre to see how quickly "impressive" brands and mediacos get excited about half-baked ideas like Honeyshed.

Can you give us one sentence about what this other, "truly innovative" company is thinking about?
// Blogger Ethan B // 9:29 PM

"the real Honeyshed - aka brands as consumption, rather than advertising nuisance costs, already exists. It just got funded last year, and it really is innovative.

Who it is really isn't important."

Yeah.... but who is it? :)
// Anonymous james // 11:09 AM

Hi! Umair - I greatly admire your writings and so do a lot of other people I am sure. But of late it has been my observation that your writings are not attracting comments - surprising given the quality of their content. The reason is obvious - the writings have become sporadic, generating uncertainty about the forum. I am sure you have very good reasons, but is this a violation of one the tenets of a 'community' :-)
// Anonymous Anonymous // 8:44 PM

Welcome back umair to regualr blog postings. I must say for someone who is a proponent of open models for media, I get a feeling you want to keep your insights opaque and semi-closed. For example, you say that identifying the company you referred to in the post is not important. I would guess that most of your readers would beg to differ. It helps a great deal to have real concrete examples to go with your theories. If you don't want to share openly and freely, may be you should reconsider your reasons to blog at all.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 3:37 AM

Honeyshed will take over the advertising world. It is a fantastic idea. You point of view is just your own... very lame i have to say...
// Anonymous Anonymous // 5:38 AM

how could you possibly judge a an idea before seeing the execution? you display your clear ignorance by ranting and ranting before even having a proper judgement. have a look at the site when it launches then write a proper blog.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 6:06 PM

honeyshed has launched and everything said here became true. can you picture ANYONE tuning into this channel on a regular basis? What a crazy misstep in Droga5's decision making.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 7:05 AM

The concept isn't bad. It's the timing. Our minds tune out at around 60 seconds. If they created a bunch of snippets, like Rocketboom that are quick, exciting, etc, maybe people will follow along. Once spokes models start flopping around the set, lose eye contact with the audience, the energy drops and we simply tune it out. Keep it fresh, keep it quick.
// Blogger vf-ml // 1:21 AM

remember when cell phones came out and everyone thought they totally unnecessary? or when e-commerce sites showed up and people thought they were totally risky and nobody would use them? or when facebook opened it's doors to people other than college students and everyone said that nobody older than 22 would sign up? honeyshed is in that same boat of great ideas that people may at first not embrace, but within a year will be the new (or shopping destination of your choice).
it is totally sweet and much needed.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 7:55 AM

In the end, it doesn't really matter what the 'experts' and pundits say about sites like Honeyshed, does it. It's all about the movement of the crowd. I, as a consumer, think it's a bitchen site and I'm already addicted. Now only if they can feature products that I really want...
// Anonymous ninjamindbender // 7:02 AM

Strategy wise I'm not sure but god damn if that isn't the greatest content I've seen online in well, for EVER.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 4:09 PM


It is taking chances on innovative ideas that will save our industry. We should be applauding those willing to make high-risk investments in new ideas, not criticizing. Your post sounds almost bitter and jealous and I question you affiliation with the miraculous, mystery company you cite?

I for one think Honeyshed is an incredibly innovative idea that will find its way in time. Don't forget, we are in the infancy of media consumption via Internet.

Lighten up and open you mind.
// Blogger Paola // 7:09 PM
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