Who were the PR wizards at QVC that let this nut come to West Chester to do a story on the home shopping network? They couldn’t smell a hatchet job, or what our friend, ex-New York Daily News reporter Pat Clark, used to call a “stiletto job,” coming?
We’re talking about writer Mark Wilson, who said that even he was surprised when QVC said yet to his request to train to go on-air to sell a product on the channel and then do it.
Actually, to be fair to QVC’s PR staff, Wilson appeared on QVC Plus, a QVC spin-off with very limited distribution. Nonetheless, it gave Wilson the opportunity to write his tome, “I Went On The Air at QVC And Sold Something To America,” for Fastcodesign.com.
Wilson blows the lid off the home-shopping industry by making this shocking discovery: It wants to do its damnedest to sell you stuff! QVC actually trains people to go on TV to sell! The network actually demands that its hosts dress well and be well-groomed, i.e. no beards!
Stop the presses!
As for the dress code, Wilson describes one of its “quirks” is that “print shirts were not to be worn.” Isn’t that one of TV’s basic rules?
We hate to be in the position of defending QVC, or any of its competitors. There are legitimate complaints about home shopping nets, the worse of which, we think, is that people get hooked and end up buying stuff they don’t need, getting buried in debt and sometimes going bankrupt. We’ve seen those stories about elderly women who die and have thousands of dollars of QVC or HSN merchandise — jewelry, cookware, etc. — hoarded away.
But frankly, that’s like blaming Atlantic City for gamblers betting away their mortgage money.
Wilson wrote what our friend, journalist and author Gary Belsky, used to call a “goat gagger,” namely a very, very long first-person story on QVC.
Wilson went to QVC TV “bootcamp,” and then appeared with host Albany Irvin to pitch the Halo 3000 Portable cellphone charger. In the story, he described the product as “bulky,” “hideous” and something he would never buy.
We don’t know where to start to talk about the story. We guess it’s too much to expect that journalists will stop perpetuating years-old stereotypes about home shopping channels, namely that they just sell cubic zirconia and that shoppers are all a bunch of old bags — in his view, anyone over 35.
“From Day One, QVC’s niche was the unhip,” Wilson writes.
He never intended to write an objective story, and we guess that’s fine. Nah, it’s not fine. He’s an idiot.
Not once in the story does he talk about QVC’s wide array of vendors, who include top respected brands in electronics, apparel, cookware, beauty, shoes, jewelry, etc.
You know them. Dell. Bose. Judith Ripka. Dennis Basso. Isaac Mizrahi. Bob Mackie. Halston. Kenneth Cole. KitchenAid. Honora, Keurig. Serta. Dyson. Bobbi Brown. Tarte. Apple. Samsung. LG. HP. Toshiba. Fitbit. Perricone MD. Cuisinart. Whirlpool.
Pretty shoddy products, wouldn’t you say?
And what about the musical artists who have performed and sold CDs on QVC, like Sheryl Crow?
Wilson takes plenty of snarky, cheap shots. He describes QVC hosts as “middle-aged” and “often overweight.” He describes producers as “skulking” behind the scenes and makes fun of them for looking bored during the segments (“his smile dissipates to sullen boredom.”)
Look around any workplace — how many times do you see a bunch of excited, happy campers?
We’re still flummoxed by this graf:
But if QVC’s 24/7/364 approach — they go off-air for Christmas — is a fossil, it’s a living one. While U.S. mall popularity peaked in 1990, QVC’s revenue continues to grow. The network now does $8.8 billion in worldwide sales a year…
For a fossil, in a world where brick-and-mortar retail is seeing its sales slide, QVC is still managing to make money. A lot of it.
Wilson also spelled Rachael Ray’s name wrong, as he did the town where QVC is based. It is West Chester, not Westchester. But we digress.
We got into home shopping because we love jewelry and have been interested in gems and rocks since we were little. We enjoy the variety of baubles available on QVC, etc., and the stories that vendors such as Jay King and Paul Deasy share.
We have no interest in computers, but we appreciated that on-air tutorial we got from QVC when we bought a Dell laptop from the channel. Home shopping networks are instructional, with experts that can explain products better than your average store clerk.
QVC allows you to buy big-ticket items over time, in monthly installments, without paying interest.
“Why did I pitch this stupid story?” Wilson writes at one point.