PR Boo

I have just finished reading boo hoo, the inside story on  You might remember them as the “urban fashion” dotcom that managed to burn through $185 million in under two years.

It’s written by Ernst Malmsten one of the co-founders and it’s a staggering read.

The founders, Ernst and Kajsa Leander, successfully founded and sold an online bookstore before venturing into the world of high fashion.

You have to give Ernst respect for putting the history in print, because he does not come out of this account with glory. Of course, it would be unfair to take the book out of context.  When you are reading it you have to remember back to the height of the dotcom madness.  A time when managing costs was for wimps.

The first thing you realize reading the book is that Ernst is a fashion snob. He spends a lot of the book commenting on the dress sense of advisors – I kid you not.

It’s like watching a trainwreck as you read mistake after mistake – one of my favorites is when they started evaluating new business lines BEFORE the site even went live!

But what was of most interest from a PR view was Ernst’s experience with PR.  He is the nightmare client.  He expects his agency to set up interviews with Vogue and every other leading fashion magazine even though they are unheard of.  After a meeting with his agency he makes the caustic comment that he would have been better off doing it himself. Sound familiar? Of course the nice part is he realises in hindsight, his agency did a fantastic job. And they did.

Its a little ironic that the Ernst Malmsten domain is actually owned by a disgruntled supplier.

Best dotcom trainwreck book I’ve read to date. And he needs the cash.

Other links:

  • Here’s the transcript of a talk Ernst gave post-Boo