WarnerMedia's Kevin Reilly, Jenna Lyons Preview Unscripted Project, Commerce Platform
The brand and show will built in tandem, with WarnerMedia owning 50 percent of the commerce platform.
Fashion icon Jenna Lyons and WarnerMedia's Kevin Reilly talked up her upcoming show and lifestyle brand, with the duo showing a quick “prototype” of the program at Cannes Lions.
The unscripted show, which follows the former J. Crew president as she builds a new brand, will start shooting later this year for a 2020 debut on TNT and TBS, as well as streaming on WarnerMedia's upcoming platform.
In a unique arrangement, WarnerMedia is also funding the e-commerce platform that will accompany the show. Reilly said WarnerMedia is partnering with an outside equity firm to launch the platform with the option to either sell or acquire the stake after it is launched. Reilly serves as president of TBS, TNT and truTV as well as the direct-to-consumer division chief content officer.
“It is going to be critical that she grows this business as part of it, and we don't want to be stunted if we don't want to make that level of investment. So they'll be happening in a symbiotic way. If you can think about the popularity of any lifestyle show that as it succeeds it drives enormous interest,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
“We may go the distance with that, but we're not sure that WarnerMedia wants to own a big retail experience,” he said.
The lifestyle brand will be built around Lyons' cult status in the fashion industry. Reilly cited the popularity of HGTV's Chip and Joanna Gaines as an inspiration, and called Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop a “touchstone.” He said the show and the shopping platform will be designed in tandem so they are a “whole experience.”
“I believe there's opportunity in this space,” he said. “It really builds the commerce experience, where it's this connection or commerce and content.” Reilly said there are big portions of the project that they still have to work out. They indicated that the long-term goal is to have a majority of products showcased on TV be shoppable, from clothing to desk accessories.
Lyons will begin by launching a blog this fall, sharing her ideas, product endorsements and possibly parts of the shoppable platform. “I anticipate we may start that in advance of the show and kind of ramp it up,” Reilly told THR. “That could lead to immediate engagement [when the show premieres]. We want to be ramped up already on that experience so people can say, 'Where can I go and get more?' after the show is over.”
Speaking on stage, Lyons said that the Internet provides almost too many choices as the print media business shrinks, and that she aims to narrow that down for her viewers. “There's umpteen choices but what is not there is any kind of curation or selection, where magazines used to be the place you could go,” she said.
The original influencer in some ways — she could sell out a product just by wearing it — Lyons dismissed the idea of social media “influencers” and “brand architects” who amass followers to hock what amount to advertisements. “It's gotten a little overwhelming and it lacks that personal connection and that truth to be honest,” she added.