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Hive of Brand Activity

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I have seen the future. And it's full of, like, really awesome shoes. I swear. "They're, like, really comfortable and sporty, but you could totally wear them with a dress. The insole is so cute, and so is the outsole!"

All the words in quotes are straight from the mouth of one of the Honeyshed honeys, or cast members, or whatever they call the young people who do the shilling on this revolutionary "entertainment/advertising" portal from Droga5 and Smuggler. The site's home page, www.honeyshed.com, says it's still in beta. (Reportedly, there will be all sorts of wondrous new stuff, like sketch comedy and episodic content, to come.) The big consumer launch is in December, but I've been watching avidly for the last couple of days.

Billed as MTV meets QVC, it's a little light on the Q part. More like Yo! MTV Raps meets Girls Gone Retail. (And we know we're not watching QVC because there's nary a serious French manicure in sight—nor a caller from Tennessee who is so grateful, because she has collected all of the fabulous colorful holiday sweaters in size 1X, and she's so lucky she got them before they sold out! And she loves QVC! And the sweater seller is her favorite host! And she's very, very lonely!)

But back to Honeyshed. Although I like the name, which suggests it's Euro-ish and sticky, let me get the criticism out of the way. First of all, the site seems to operate under the Neanderthal sexual politics of a banned rap record. The women sell padded underwear, disposable underwear, pads for your bra (am I sensing a theme here?), skintight overalls and cute shoes. The men sell electronics, like a boom box with a hidden camera so you can "put it in a girls' locker room," accessories for the Wii, and DVDs.

I understand that these days everything is targeted to that all-important consumer, the teenage boy (in this case, up to age 25), but this radical hub of fresh brand culture seriously needs to add a Sarah Silverman type to the retinue of sellers. Perhaps she could talk music or movies or, even, God forbid, politics or books. And how about really mixing it up with co-ed sales teams? Although some Mormons, Lubavitcher Jews and followers of the ayatollah all make sure to keep men and women separate from each other (sometimes under threat of death), from what I can tell, they don't go in for disposable panties much.

In the simultaneous plus and minus column, Honeyshed's content starts playing as soon as you arrive at the site, which means you drop in mid-video. That could be hypnotic and appealing, but the conversation is generally HSN with cooler hats, multiple curse words and lots of use of the word "dope," so it's often not that scintillating. Plus it's annoying if you're not interested in that particular video and have a specific product you want to get to. (I wasn't able to figure it out, but they tell me you can select specific videos from the categories listed in the Channels bar.)

The first thing I saw when I tuned in was a segment selling boxing gloves for the Wii. It was alive and fun and pointed out the aerobic and health benefits of playing, which made even me want to buy some. I later came back to the site to watch it again, but had to sit through an endless loop of shoes before giving up entirely.

Kudos, however, for the two segments I saw that were actually funny: In one, a group of guys, including rapper Danny Boy, sits around selling plush, cartoonish, one-size-fits-all NBA slippers. When Danny's friend DJ Apocalypse lifts up his pant leg to try them on, we see, above his tattooed ankle, what looks like a house-arrest bracelet that he says is an "alcohol monitoring device" called a SCRAM unit, like the one worn by Lindsay Lohan. Who better, then, to pad around the house in these "pillows for the feet and shit?" (Later, a helpful caller offers to e-mail the DJ the address of a Web site that features instructions for removing the ankle bracelet without alerting the authorities.)

Another (male-hosted) segment all about moustaches—with recommendations for movies and TV shows featuring major '70s-style 'staches—was pretty funny, too.

I also liked the little animated films with the logo and sound effects that popped up between videos. They very much reminded me of the early days of MTV, when the great George Lois animated the M with all kinds of innovative design. (In those days, MTV used footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing for filler because it was free.)

MTV, of course, went on to revolutionize television—after aptly launching with the song "Video Killed the Radio Star." Honeyshed, for better or worse, does seem to have the same revolutionary capability. It's definitely what everyone's been afraid of. There's no turning back.

Funny, I used to think the future would look like Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil. Now I know differently. Rather, the future will look like this: We will sit around with cameras, wearing odd costumes, selling each other stuff through our portals.