In a day and age where patience is hardly a virtue and more and more people are adhering to Veruca Salt’s “I want an oompa loompa now” way of life, a company that has one too many steps in the purchase process can’t last. Fortunately, instant gratification is something NY-based Entertainment Media Works’ CEO Ashley J. Heather (left) doesn’t take for granted. With his newly launched online company StarStyle.com, Heather is pushing the envelope by converging TV and online.
The site, which officially shifted out of beta this Monday, allows consumers who see music, apparel, gadgets and furnishings on their favorite TV shows to both identify and purchase them on StarStyle.com. This mash-up of Internet technology and the traditional telly, Heather feels, has previously been untapped. The Britain-born entrepreneur explains his latest venture, “When you see something in TV, film, or music, there’s three forms of entertainment media. If you see anything you like—whether it’s a piece of clothing, whether it’s a piece of furniture, whatever it happens to be—you should be able to use technology to go ‘Hey, what is that?’ bookmark it, and then come back and buy it, share it with friends and find out where [else] you can buy it, etc.”
Hoping to answer that problem with a fashionable solution, StarStyle doesn’t just pick celebrities and their styles at random. Heather along with the company’s other execs including ex-CBS president and current Entertainment Media Works’ chairman Jim Rosenfield have cut deals with some of the biggest studios around to get first peeks on what stars are wearing on-set. “We have deals with the studios,” he says. “We’re actually on set. We’re the only company that has access pre-the TV being aired so we know well in advance all of the products that are being used.”
But these deals didn’t just happen over night with a handshake and a smile; as Heather tells us that along with steadfast confidence, these things take both time and relationship-building efforts. “It’s taken 18 months…it’s taken more than that. That’s what Jim helps with, and our other team of very experienced TV people who run networks and studios and it’s through their relationships that we’ve been able to forge those relationships,” he explains. “We’ve got eleven in the pipeline, either signed or about to be signed, and we’ve got a lot of shows where we are on set and we’re cataloging all the information.”
For one, beginning this week alongside StarStyle’s debut is an exclusive agreement with FremantleMedia and 19 TV Ltd. to add its series American Idol to nearly a dozen initial entertainment properties. Add to that a myriad of other shows including “What I Like About You”, imminently the “Real World Key West” and “The Simple Life” in addition to a handful of daytime dramas including “As the World Turns,” “Guiding Light” and “The Young and the Restless” and you’d better start clearing your closet. “We’ve got a number of syndicated partners lined up where we can put our content on their site, like ‘Powered by Star Style,'” Heather says. “For example, we’re powering American Idol’s style section—actually on American Idol.com. When you click on ‘style’ and go to get the look, all of that content we’re powering and it’s coming from us.”
And while Heather continues to hit the pavement to add plenty more celebrity-rich shows to StarStyle’s already growing trove of content, the company also has plans to introduce other mediums to their brand. As he tells us, “Direction-wise we’re going to be launching music a month later. So, we’ve got a lot of music videos that we’ll be featuring on the site, so you can buy all the clothes you see in music videos.”
Heather, who’s no newbie to music and new media, set up, for one, mobile music recognition service MusicKube, which was later acquired by Japanese public company For-Side. Explaining his last venture, Heather says, ” [MusicKube] basically allows you to hold your cellphone to a piece of music—maybe in a bar, or in the car, or on the radio—dial the number for one song and we would then send a message back to your phone telling you the name of the song, where to buy it, where to get the ringtone, where to share it with other people. And so, the philosophy—my personal philosophy and the philosophy behind that company—was all about what I call the four steps of marketing: awareness, interest, desire, action.” It’s these same steps and his futuristic view on ecommerce that have scored him accolades including 2001’s “European eBusiness Consultancy of the Year”, and these elements have helped him to visualize the kind of impact StarStyle can have on the traditional/online conversion.