Lifestyle Sites Are Becoming Tired Celebrity Brand Extensions

Most people just want their lifestyle to be about comfy pjs, popcorn and wine.

If there’s one thing the world doesn’t need it’s another celebrity trying to carve a niche in the “lifestyle” game. But here’s Ashley Tisdale, best known for her role in High School Musical, who recently launched a blog called TheHauteMess. The idea is to embrace the “I’m not perfect” state most of us are in (but more specifically for the 20- and 30-somethings), and to reach the 20 million-plus people who follow her on social media with more content.

The site launched on Wednesday and so far we spy ideas for how to wear a denim jacket, hair product tips from a stylist, breakfast ideas for busy people, and tips for residents in small spaces. So pretty run-of-the-mill stuff here.

The company that is helping to run this site, DMedia, also hosts other celebrity sites, among them Felicity Huffman’s WhatTheFlicka mom site. (Didn’t know this existed.)

Then you have perhaps the mother of all celebrity lifestyle sites, Goop. (Learn The Secrets of the Pelvic Floor. Actually kind of interesting.) And Blake Lively’s site Preserve. Real Housewife of Atlanta’s NeNe Leakes redecorated her house and now she thinks she can be the next Martha Stewart. And she’s not the only housewife. Bethenny Frankel has her wildly successful SkinnyGirl site.

All of these sites are ultimately vehicles for selling stuff. In some cases, it’s the site’s own products (like Skinnygirl). Or, as in TheHauteMess, visitors can buy things they see on the site. With these moneymakers built in, it’s easy to justify adding another to the mix.

Celebrities have access to lots of “gurus” and free products, not to mention people who want to partner with them. So gathering content for a site isn’t a tough task. But these sites are framed as “empowering” (to use Tisdale’s word) and life-enhancing in some way, and yeah, no.

These sites are just really easy brand extensions in an area where there seems to be no saturation point. There are standard women’s magazines, sites like PopSugar and Refinery29 and health/fitness/wellness specific outlets. So from the moment you wake up on your lavender-scented organic cotton sheets until the moment you turn on your ambient noise machine and turn in for the night, there’s a piece of advice somewhere to enhance that lifestyle choice you’re making.

But these celebrity sites are promising a peek into what a celebrity carries in her purse or keeps in her medicine chest. They’re inviting loyal fans to live a little like someone they respect, admire and enjoy. They’re offering a taste of what goes on in their kitchen and a bit of what’s happening in their oversized walk-in closets. They add dimension to a celebrity personality and push that out as that person’s brand, with the product to go along with it.

The biggest celebrity lifestyle success story I can think of is Jessica Alba’s Honest Company. And in the spirit of the name of the company, they’re straight up selling stuff. The site targets parents with health and wellness weighing heavy on their minds, and Alba’s presence on the site is focused squarely on promoting that single thing. She’s promising quality products for moms and dads going the natural route. You’re getting a real peek into the kinds of things that are in her kids’ nursery and she’s simply inviting you to buy it. Full stop. No advice, no promises about being a better you. Just buy my stuff because it’s better. It’s very refreshing.

Maybe I’m just being grumpy; it’s very hot and humid in New York lately. But I would love it if Ashley Tisdale, who’s technically an actress, just made a great movie or TV show that I was dying to watch. I might buy into that.