We’ve discussed the ubiquitous celebrity lifestyle site on PRNewser before. Everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Ashley Tisdale has gotten in on the trend, and while some have succeeded (like Gwyneth Paltrow‘s legacy newsletter and site, Goop) others have failed.
The latest lifestyle and e-commerce site to close is Blake Lively’s Preserve. Lively, best known for mumbling through six seasons of Gossip Girl as Serena Van Der Woodsen, first launched the site in July 2014. The media was quick to mock Lively’s over-the-top writing style (“At once structured and chaotic, the great American BBQ is, indubitably, a rollicking repast”) and overpriced artisanal products (like a $400 wooden heart). Now, not even a year later, the site is folding. Lively explained why to Vogue:
We have an incredible team of people who do beautiful work, but we launched the site before it was ready, and it never caught up to its original mission: It’s not making a difference in people’s lives, whether superficially or in a meaningful way.
Here are four reasons why Lively’s site was doomed from the start:
1. People are bored of celebrities hawking products.
We’ve come to a saturation point. With Kim Kardashian endorsing a morning sickness drug on Instagram and Hillary Duff casually posing with Lyfe tea, it seems like you can’t escape celebrity endorsements on social media. It’s annoying to be constantly bombarded by ads. Plus, the celebrity lifestyle field is way too crowded now. If you don’t have something compelling to say, people get bored pretty quickly. Even if you are a shiny, glamorous famous person.
2. The products themselves were ridiculously overpriced.
Although the site was meant to contain “people, stories, essays, videos and goods which hopefully inspire your home, your style and your tongue,” it was mostly comprised of products like $400 travel bags and $68 t-shirts. Snarky comments abound, and even when Lively tried to be self aware (noting that “a lot of what we are selling is outlandish in a world where people are starving and have nowhere to sleep“) she was ripped apart for her attempts at charity. As The Guardian put it:
Lively tries to have her Marie Antoinette cake and eat it too. She wants to be a trinket merchant, but she also wants to feel good about it, and she wants her customers to feel good too. These are the real needs served by Preserve’s philanthropy
3. Lively is not an authority figure in the lifestyle world.
When Goop was first launched in September 2008, it was also widely mocked. People said Paltrow was out of touch with the average woman, and that her products were unreasonably expensive. All true facts. And yet, the site continues to chug along. Paltrow is now an authority on all things health, wellness and style, and certain types of women look up to her. Lively has a millennial fan base, but she doesn’t command respect as Paltrow does. Even her idol Martha Stewart initially dismissed the site:
Let her try. I don’t mean that facetiously! I mean, it’s stupid, she could be an actress! Why would you want to be me if you could be an actress? I just did a movie yesterday, though — I can’t even tell you about it — but I want to be Blake Lively.
4. The site was tone deaf.
One of the worst PR fails in Preserve’s short life was the site’s ode to the Antebellum period (you know, that time before the Civil War when rich society women were still slave owners?) Preserve did a whole photoshoot on what looked suspiciously like a plantation (lots of wide porches) and people were outraged. As Jezebel put it:
Anyone who romanticizes our nation’s Antebellum period as some sort of marker of style and taste is definitely white and probably an asshole. But you know what? You have a right to be both of those things. My issue is with completely erasing any mention of the system that defined this era
I would say that was the beginning of the end for Preserve. But fear not! The site is apparently being rebooted. What can we expect from Preserve 2.0? You’ll just have to wait and see.
Let’s just hope there aren’t any $30 spoons.