Archive for the ‘The Wall Street Journal’ Category

The New York Times Reveals QVC’s Secrets: Not, But Honchos Mike George And Greg Maffei Surface

November 21, 2010

First The Wall Street Journal, now The New York Times, have woken up and figured out that home shopping is a booming business. And there was not one mention of cubic zirconia in either story.

While The Journal recently wrote about HSN with a trip to Florida, The Times headed out to West Chester, Pa., to do its take on QVC. The headline on the story this weekend is “Can QVC Translate Its Pitch Online.”

As a veteran journalist, we found that this story didn’t quite gel because although it’s supposed to be about QVC’s online strategy — and its growing online sales — much of the piece reports on the home shopping network’s TV side.

QVC CEO Mike George dissed a gift box with Santa's face on it, to the horror of a QVC PR person

Our guess is that when The Journal wrote about home shopping networks booming and attracting names like celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and others, The Times had to find a different angle for its story. And it made its angle about QVC.com.

A big thesis of The Times story is that people thought the Internet might hurt home shopping channels. Why would you think that? The Web lets QVC, HSN and ShopNBC sell their vast inventory 24 hours a day, not just a few items every day. But what do we know.

And once again, as we read in The Journal, home shopping hosts and vendors — via those pesky earpieces — are coached by producers about when items are selling, and when they are duds and it is time to move on. Big whoop!

Lisa Robertson says QVC viewers don't want polished professionals

You have the link so you can read The Times story yourself, but here are some points that stood out for us:

— QVC CEO Mike George finally came out of the woodwork and was interviewed for the story.

— George dissed one of QVC’s products, prompting “an anguished sound” from a QVC PR person.

— Greg Maffei, CEO of QVC parent Liberty Media, came out of the woodwork and was interviewed for the story.

— Host Lisa Robertson’s quote, “They (QVC viewers) don’t want to see a bunch of polished professionals. They want to see the real people.” So Lisa, what are you saying? That you and your fellow hosts are a bunch of unpolished amateurs?

— Zoe has brought a ton of new customers to QVC.

— Milinda Baker Weldon from Graham, Texas, is a self-admitted QVC addict who has the network on six hours a day.

— Rachael Ray sold $350,000 worth of cookware on QVC in 12 minutes.

The Wall Street Journal On HSN Honcho Mindy Grossman, Why Home Shopping Is Hot And ‘Pooh-Poohing’ Designers

November 11, 2010

Did you realize it’s “The Golden Age of TV Shopping”?

We know, we’ve been telling you that for more than a year now, but The Wall Street Journal made it official Thursday, with a big feature with that “Golden Age” headline.

It looks like Journal reporter Elizabeth Holmes actually plopped her butt onto a plane and made the trek to St. Petersburg, Fla., to find out exactly why the hell upscale designers such as Reem Acra (who is so high-end we had never heard of her), Mark Badgley and James Mischka, and Naeem Khan are now selling their wares on HSN. In the past, they were selling their duds to celebs like Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry.

The Journal story mainly focuses on HSN and its evolution (which has some irate customers wanting to start a revolution) under the helm of CEO Mindy Grossman. But it also references the market’s dominant player, QVC, and its hip vendors such as razor-thin celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and “Mad Men” costume designer Janie Bryant.

Your's truly with designing team Mark Badgley and James Mischka, who are a big part of The Journal's home shopping story

As usual in one of these home-shopping-networks-are-no-longer-downscale stories, we have the usual quotes from Acra and Khan (who has designed for First Lady Michelle Obama) knocking electronic home — that is before they swallowed the Kool-Aid.

“I never watched it before,” Acra told The Journal, referring to HSN. “I pooh-poohed it. But now look at it. There are items I would want every single day.”

Ah, a true believer now.

Naeem Khan's $870 bag for HSN

Then the story gets to the obvious: High-end designers have gone to HSN because they can move a hell of a lot of product on it, which is pretty crucial when sales for upsale goods have crashed. Mischka told Rupert Murdoch’s financial rag that Badgley Mischka sold 18,000 units of one particular jacket on HSN. It would take a lot of couture gowns to ring up that kind of revenue. Volume, volume, volume.

We did learn a few things from The Journal, like that HSN keeps track of sales by the minutes, and uses that “intel,” as Jack Bauer would say, to guide hosts. The story says that when HSN host Bobbi Ray Carter mentioned the quality of one of Acra’s jackets, it’s sales shot up. So HSN had Ray talk in more detail about the material in the piece.

HSN chief Mindy Grossman

The article talks quite a bit about Nike veteran Grossman, who came on board to HSN in 2006 and began making it more fashion-forward by courting a host of big-name designers.

Grossman did her research, asking people about HSN, and told The Journal she got three responses, “Some who shopped, some who didn’t, some who did but they whispered that they did.””

We never whispered, Mindy! We were always loud and proud about our HSN and QVC purchases, despite being surrounded by snobby Manhattanites (most of whom where transplants from the Midwest).

The Journal story goes on about Grossman, saying, “The new CEO cleaned house, shedding brands that she didn’t think made sense for the network.”

We guess the “shedding” refers to the exits of vendors like Suzanne Somers, Terry Lewis, Beyonce’s mom Tina Knowles and a parade of others. The departure of Terry Lewis and her Classic Luxuries line still has some HSN shoppers calling for Grossman to be drawn and quartered.

We did get a kick out of the anecdote in the story about Mischka “falling off the stage” the first time he and his partner Badgley appeared on HSN. But unfortunately for viewers, the camera wasn’t on him when that little mishap took place.

HSN Jewelry Designer Carol Brodie Offers Her Tips In The Wall Street Journal

October 28, 2010

Jewelry designer Carol Brodie, who does the Rarities line for HSN, offers advice on how to organize jewelry in The Wall Street Journal, of all places, Thursday.

In a story headlined “Jewelry-Box Surprise: Wearing Old Pieces in New Ways,” we learn that Brodie has been collecting jewelry since she was seven, and that she now owns more than 500 pieces.

HSN's Carol Brodie makes The Wall Street Journal

Brodie changes out her jewelry for the each new season, and cleans her pieces by soaking them in water with some Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and ammonia. She then wipes then off with a cotton T-shirt. We’ll have to try that for our stuff.

The tall blonde beauty loves to mix and match her pieces.

Brodie is quite careful about how she stores her jewelry, and like us, she displays favorite necklaces and bracelets. She uses acrylic holders from the Container Store, we bought our metal stands from Urban Outfitters and TJ Maxx.

Brodie posted the story on Facebook Wednesday night.

Charriol Heiress, With New QVC Handbag Line, Says Let Them Eat Cake — Or Buy $300 Purses

August 30, 2010

Charriol Lorena hobo for QVC

The rich are different from you and me, as the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote goes. That is never more clear than when reading an interview with QVC’s newest handbag vendor, Coralie Charriol.

Coralie is creative director for her daddy Phillippe’s extraordinarily pricey Swiss jeweley and watch company, Charriol. QVC host Lisa Robertson sometimes wears a white Charriol watch, which retails for about $4,000, on-air.

As The Wall Street Journal reports Monday, Coralie debuted a handbag line called C. Lili today on QVC. The story is headlined “Selling 800 Bags in 16 Minutes.”

It’s not surprising that as part of the upper crust, Coralie says she has never purchased anything on QVC. But she notes that QVC has “elevated” its brand with collections from the likes of celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and Kim Kardashian (huh?)

“They have an incredible standard of workmanship with inspections and workmanship,” Coralie tells The Journal.

No shit Sherlock. Talk about back-handed compliments for QVC.

But our favorite quote from Coralie is where she talks about her initial four bags for QVC selling for less than $300. Here’s where the “rich-different-than-us” part comes in.

“You would think that for $300 that they are going to be made very cheap and out of pleather, but they’re not,” Coralie told The Journal. “They’re fabulous looking!”

Earth to Coralie: Most American women are not spending $300 for purses, and many American women are buying leather — not pleather — handbags for way less than $300.

We all can’t afford to buy $5,000 to $15,000 Gucci and Vuitton designer bags.

This woman really riles up our class consciousness, like when we walked into our first class at Northwestern and realized everyone else’s dad was a CEO.

But ultimately we came to realize that FDNY trumped CEO any day.

QVC In-House Designer Isaac Mizrahi’s Rising Star Was Tarnished By Flop At Liz Claiborne, Wall Street Journal Reports

August 16, 2010

QVC has been boasting about Liz Claiborne’s line coming to the network, and keeps extolling the designer it brought over from there. But maybe it shouldn’t be, if you believe a Page One story in The Wall Street Journal Monday

Headlined “Targeting Younger Buyers, Liz Claiborne Hits A Snag,” the piece chronicles the missteps of Liz Claiborne CEO William McComb. Once the top vendor in U.S. department stores, as of this month Liz Claiborne will now only be available at JC Penney and QVC after a falling out with its top client, Macy’s.

We wrote about this deal when it was announced last year. Ironically, The Journal doesn’t even mention the QVC part of the pact.

And the story is rather damning when it comes to Mizrahi, who is now QVC’s in-house lifestyle designer, doing everything from clothes to accessories to housewares and bedding.

The Journal blames Mizrahi with putting the final nail in the coffin of McComb’s and Liz Claiborne’s rocky relationship with its most important customer, Macy’s.

“In an effort to attract a younger audience, Mr. McComb decided to focus on the company’s contemporary brands with the most potential, including Juicy Couture, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand Jeans and Mexx,” The Journal wrote.

“But he made a series of strategic blunders including hiring a star designer, Isaac Mizrahi, at a hefty salary and veering away from the Liz Claiborne brand’s trademark career apparel. He sold, discontinued or licensed several boomer brands—including Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman and Sigrid Olsen—that weren’t performing well but represented major sales volume.”

A Columbia Business school prof tells the financial broadsheet that this realignment was “a disaster waiting to happen.”

McComb hired Mizrahi away from Target in 2008 as part of his effort to relanch the Liz Claiborne Line.

Mizrahi got a nice package, The Journal reported: a five-year contract worth $6 million a year; his entire 25-person design team came with him; and Claiborne agreed to foot the bill for fashion shows for Mizrahi’s personal high-end brand for roughly $1 million a season.

Macy’s executives expressed concern that Mizrahi’s funky designs wouldn’t appeal to Liz Claiborne’s core customers, working women, and it was right.

“Mr. Mizrahi’s designs hit stores in January 2009, generating media buzz and positive reviews from fashion critics,” The Journal wrote. “Michelle Obama was photographed in one of his outfits and Vogue ran a profile of Mr. Mizrahi.”

But the line flopped, shunned by Claiborne’s regular customers and hindered by the recession.

Macy’s dumped the line, and last October McComb announced Liz Claiborne’s exclusive deal with QVC and JC Penney, as well as Mizrahi’s move to QVC.

Mizrahi declined to comment for The Journal piece.

As we’ve said before, we loved Mizrahi’s Target clothes. At QVC, he’s lost his mojo. He really disappointed us.

Wall Street Journal Does Non-Snarky Story On HSN’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Promotion

August 5, 2010

We broke the story June 1 that HSN had a big promotion cooking for the new movie “Eat, Pray, Love” — even though the home shopping network wouidn’t comment on it.

On July 6 HSN put out a press release about the formerly hush-hush three-day promotion with Sony Pictures for the film, which stars Julia Roberts and is being released Aug. 13.

Today, Thursday, The Wall Street Journal had a piece on the promotion headlined “‘Eat, Pray, Love’ — and Shop at HSN.”

Unlike most of The Journal’s stories, this one doesn’t look down its nose at HSN and the home shopping industry.

The article says that Sony Pictures will get a piece of sales of some merchandise that HSN sells this weekend for its “Eat, Pray, Love” event. The more than 400 new items being presented from India, Italy and Bali — where the movie is set — will include special teas and spices from “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi and clothes from Michella Obama designer Naeem Khan.

In The Journal story HSN CEO Mindy Grossman is given full credit for coming up with the idea of the home shopping network’s tie-in with the film.

HSN staff has already previewed the flick, and they have also been given copies of the bestseller by Elizabeth Gilbert that the film is based on.

For its part, Sony Pictures is trying to draw HSN’s female customers in and get them to see the movie.

Christie Brinkley Showed Off Her QVC Jewelry At Hampton’s Super Saturday Benefit

August 2, 2010

There were several stories in Big Apple newspapers Monday about Super Saturday, the annual charity event in the Hamptons that QVC telecast from this year.

The Daily News interviewed Christie Brinkley, one of QVC’s newest jewelry designers, who waxed on about the tragic BP oil spill in the Gulf and got teary-eyed talking about it.

In the photos that accompanied the item, Brinkley is wearing two pieces from her QVC collection: a blue lace agate necklace that sells for $195 and a braided leather bracelet for $45. The supermodel debuted her jewelry on QVC Sunday.

The Wall Street Journal also did a story on Super Saturday headlined “A Celebrity ‘Garage Sale.'” It mentioned that celebrity stylist and QVC vendor Rachel Zoe was there.

The Journal also gave QVC a shout-out.

“QVC broadcast interactive live shopping,” the paper wrote.

Model/Entrepreneur Iman, Who Does An HSN Line, Is Expanding To Sell Fabric At Calico Corners

July 23, 2010

Iman

Does supermodel/entrepreneur Iman ever relax, maybe just sit down on the couch to watch TV in a stained T-shirt, eating a Pizza Hut pepperoni personal pan pie? We guess her hubby David Bowie wouldn’t like that.

Iman, who does the Global Chic apparel and accessory line for HSN, as well as having a cosmetics business, is now launching a fabric line that will be available in Calico Corners and Calico Home stores in September, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The story is headlined “Iman’s Next Gig: Remodelista.”

We loved her quote in the story: “Home is where I seduce my husband.”

Will NBCU’s Plans To Keep Its ShopNBC Stake Derail Any Sale Of The Home Shopping Network?

June 24, 2010

What's Keith Stewart got cooking at ShopNBC?

ShopNBC was put up for sale in 2008, and then was taken off the block a few months later. Well, we heard it’s for sale again.

ShopNBC declined to comment, by the way.

There’s been a lot of talk about possible home-shopping-network sales this week, so we’ll add this to the mix.

The ShopNBC-sale scenario we had heard about would potentially have been made easier because of NBC Universal’s plans, announced in May, to sell its 20 percent stake in the home shopping network. But on Thursday NBCU threw a monkey wrench into that possibility. Citing ShopNBC’s low stock price, NBCU announced that it wasn’t going to unload its share in the network.

Wall Street Journal blogger James Altucher was bullish on ValueVision Media, ShopNBC’s corporate parent, in a blog earlier this week. The home shopping network has 75 million subscribers, and Altucher values it at $270 million to $300 million in his blog.

He bases that price on payment of $3.92 per subscriber, which he says is “the cheapest price paid for any network on a subscriber by subscriber basis” in the past.

Altchuler, who says that Barry Diller unsucessfully bid on ShopNBC twice, has the inside dope on the initial attempt to sell ShopNBC. ValueVision shopped the network to more than 100 companies. It wound up with four serious suitors, two of them strategic buyers and two financial sponsors, according to Altuchuler. But a deal was never struck

“I think the clearing of the NBC Universal stake finally bring buyers into the loop here,” Altchuler wrote.

Well, that’s off the table now.

There’s been a lot of buzz on Wall Street about home shopping networks this week, following news that Liberyr Media Corp. was spinning off two companies to leave Liberty Interactive, which QVC is part of, as essentially a standalone company. That fueled speculation that this move by cable legend-cowboy-God John Malone was a prelude to merging QVC and HSN.

We’ll see about that one.

ShopNBC chief Keith Stewart has said that with NBCU selling its take in the home shopping network, ShopNBC will rebrand itself next year. The network has been working for months on coming up with a new name, according to Stewart.

Would you go through that trouble if you were selling your network? Or is it an attempt to dress up the property to attract suitors?

We haven't seen too much of Suzanne Somers on ShopNBC

Meanwhile, people familiar with the situation say that ShopNBC’s infrastructure, like its call centers, are not big enough to support the network.

As one sign of the times, ShopNBC is ordering a just a fraction of the amount of merchandise a month from vendor Suzanne Somers that HSN used to order, according to sources. In fact, although Somers initially said she would be on ShopNBC once a month, her visits have been much less frequent.

And we’re told some apparel vendors have to carry orders, meaning if their merchandise doesn’t sell ShopNBC can return it to them.

We wonder if they can only return it within 30 days?

IndieShop Lands A Wall Street Journal Puff Piece, Written By Christie Brinkley (Not), Who Is Coming To QVC

June 17, 2010

Christie Brinkley isn't writing for The Journal, but she is coming to QVC

IndieShop, the new home shopping network that will feature independent designers, got a big plug in The Wall Street Journal Thursday. Kudos to Trylon Communications, IndieShop’s PR firm.

The network, which will be cobbled together with paid programming purchased on cable networks across the country, was featured in the lead story of The Journal’s “Style” section, in a feature headlined “Crafts, Clothes and Clout.”

We misread the byline when we first read it, and thought times were so tough for model/divorcee Christie Brinkley that she was now freelancing for The Journal. But the writer was actually Christina Binkley. We need our contact lens cleaned.

Brinkley, however, does have a home shopping connection: She is bringing her jewelry line, already sold on Ross-Simons, to QVC.

Anyway, The Journal credits Melissa Perrucci, 42, a former Time Warner executive, with being the founder of IndieShop.

Former ShopNBC host Charla Rines said on Facebook that she’s about to land a job on a start-up network that sells luxury items. If it’s not EmVee TV, as we believe it is, maybe it’s IndieShop.