#5: Strike a Pose

Quality, value, convenience, and Madonna

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Live Shopping:  An Island in the Stream

PRESENTING… QVC

It’s 7:30pm on November 24, 1986. You flick on the ol’ Sony Trinitron and a smooth talking John Eastman beams into your den from a posh set. The well-rehearsed Eastman casually peddles QVC’s first product offering. The Windsor Shower Companion, a waterproof AM/FM clock radio, is an absolute steal at the exclusive on-air price of $11.49, (a limited time offer, of course). Eastman then turns your attention to Kathy Levin and the whimsical Lucky Number Machine.  This futuristic contraption randomly selects four numbered ping pong balls — should those lucky numbers correspond to the last four digits on your credit card, you’re in the running for a network-backed $25K sweepstakes. 

What seems like attention-holding fodder between some of the lamer product offerings is actually a clever ploy to keep credit cards in-hand and orders conveniently flowing. See, QVC isn’t the first home shopping network in the game, (Home Shopping Network holds a yearlong runway), so founder Joseph Segel is betting on quality, value, and most importantly, convenience to land first place. Alas, a strong $7400 in opening night sales seal the network’s fate. 

35 years later, QVC continues to age gracefully. After acquiring its principal rival, (yes, HSN, airhead), the now-sister-networks beam into over 380 million households, delivering 2020 revenues exceeding $14.2B, pandemic be damned. And now, Zuck, Bezos, TikTok’s overlords, and just about everyone else is trying to unravel the fabric QVC sewed, particularly in the fashion category. 

YOUR KEY TO QUALITY, VALUE, AND CONVENIENCE

Fit, feel, and favorability are difficult to discern from a 2D image on a website, facts which largely kept fashion retailers’ doors open since the dawn of e-commerce — come in, try the thing on, model the thing, buy the thing, love the thing.

When COVID reared its nasty little crown, runway moments in physical stores virtually ceased. Even with a full slate of 24/7/365 live programming, there was way more pandemic bounty than QVC could peddle alone. 

Never fear, the virtual community was here to keep QVC’s timeless strategy in vogue. Charismatic digital creators flooded social media with livestreams, sampling products of all types and sizes and offering second-to-none deals within a defined time constraint. Sound familiar?

Hop on the live boat, hear the pitch, see the glowing comments from other thirsty consumers, and WHAM! ...your guilty feet will find the rhythm in those sharp new kicks with just a few clicks. The livestreamer bags some coin for the sale, a share of ad revenue, access to bigger sponsorship deals, etc. You get an authentic, real-time perspective on product quality and sizing, incredible value via that time-bound deal, and the convenience of those fully-vetted sneakers appearing at your doorstep in a matter of days. How’s that for fast fashion? 

HURRY, THIS OFFER IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE

One does not sit long on a throne built of bayonets — contenders like Viya, the livestream queen running a $60B+ online shopping outfit, are vying for market dominance without formal corporate backing — and, let’s be real, that dollar figure is legit. On opposite ends of the retail spectrum, storied fashion label Louis Vuitton and story-laden Walmart are of the many brands duking it out for eyeballs and dollars, investing heavily in tech-forward live shopping experiences. Hats off to QVC for fending off the bears thus far but it won’t be long until everyone’s wearing suede jackets. 

Bottom line: there are plenty of sycophants putting wallets to the test and buyers on the spot — shop around for your perfect Shower Companion and don’t go for second best, baby.

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Gia / Michael Cristofer, 1998

The Gospel According to André / Kate Novack, 2017

Clueless / Amy Heckerling, 1995

Fashionista / Simon Rumley, 2016

Strike a Pose / Ester Gould & Reijer Zwaan, 2016

OOOOO: An App for the “Ensembly-Challenged”

Shop from the couch ‘til you drop to your bed.

Meet OOOOO, your newest virtual shopping buddy and the retail industry’s next top model. OOOOO’s platform connects livestreaming merchants with consumers at home, based on similar interests, taking us back to those shopping sprees with the bestie.  OOOOO La La — sneakerheads, perfumaniacs, and MUAs/MUEs uuuuunite! 

“We are targeting cultures, such as wine, toys, handbags — where people have high levels of passion. Where there is a culture, there is a conversation — this is best suited to a platform where there is live chat, interaction, and a chance to watch a live video. This is not just a shopping platform – it should be entertainment first. Connecting people to vineyards, toy factories and peoples beauty counters... all live” - Sam Jones, Cofounder OOOOO

GUCCI:  adjective.  good, great, awesome, cool, chill, etc.

Gucci, as we know him, is an iconic Italian designer (and more recently, Adam Driver’s Nonno).  

However, according to Urban Dictionary, the popularized slang version of “Gucci” is used to describe everything fabulous in life. Why? Well, “because Gucci is for the rich and ballin’ therefore he is good, cool and just pimpin’”.

Makes total sense, right?

OK HERE’S THE SITUATION

So, you’re fashionably late to the house of “Gucci”? Here’s how you try it on: “The Fast Times is Gucci TO THE MAX!!!”

Now, you’re right on time… ;)

“Vogue” Live at the 1990 MTV VMAs

Despite winning three MTV Video Music Awards and racking up nine total nominations at the 1990 ceremony, the official “Vogue” music video almost didn’t air. MTV execs demanded that she and director David Fincher shear the scene in which she vogued in a lace top that left little to hide. Seems Madonna touched them for the very first time…

Madonna gave the preaching papas the finger, MTV aired the vid anyway, and the goofballs invited her to perform the number at the awards ceremony later that year — the contingency: the lace top had to stay home. Naturally, she opted for opulent 18th century attire instead… because life is a mystery.

No stranger to controversy, or ageist rhetoric, Madonna recently lit up Instagram by striking a few lingerie-clad poses. And everyone’s wigging out. Again. Though she’s made it through the wilderness as one of the most decorated stars in history, the headlines haven’t changed much for The Queen of Pop over the years. “Calm Down, Grandma” is one of many dating back to 1993 — she was only 35 at the time...

Beloved or abhorred by men and women alike, the self-titled “bad feminist” doesn’t hesitate to address the criticism rampant in her material world. Time to get into the groove, critics.

"What I would like to say to all women here today is this: Women have been so oppressed for so long they believe what men have to say about them. They believe they have to back a man to get the job done. And there are some very good men worth backing, but not because they're men — because they're worthy. As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other's worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support, and enlightened by," - Madonna, Billboard’s Woman of the Year 2016 Speech

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