ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Home Shopping Network heralded the relaunch of its Web site Wednesday with an animated cast of experts on its home page, including hairstylist Ken Paves and chef Emeril Lagasse.

The relaunch was designed to trumpet the HSN brand, and spotlight the TV retailer's hosts and high-profile guests. It also is intended to distance HSN from formidable e-commerce players, like, by leveraging the network's TV heritage.

"Our greatest assets are our [on-air] personalities and the fact that we are a TV studio," said Matthew Siegel, senior vice president of e-commerce for HSN. "With this effort we are trying to convey that HSN is a place full of experts, and our Web site is where they live when they are not on air."

To create an animated Web environment, HSN shot videos of all its hosts and frequent guests on a green screen, and then seeded the digital images of them throughout the site. For instance, visitors to the beauty home page will by greeted by host Diana Perkovic, who chats about how to get the right products for salon-looking hair. The page also posts product picks from the HSN staff and customer favorites.

Siegel said the Web site has been in development for six months. He noted that HSN worked with each of the brands to tailor the content strategy to their positioning. For instance, the video clip for Wei East, a skin care range that melds science with traditional Chinese medicine, features the line's founder, Wei Brian, softly speaking to the viewer about product benefits.

"Nature meets beauty at its purest form," says Wei in the clip.

"This is our first bold step into this new playground, and there is so much opportunity here — we are just scratching the surface," said Siegel.

"I don't think that e-commerce has cracked the code yet on how to truly leverage video to drive conversation [to sales]. We are leveraging the fact that we are a TV station to create content to drive conversation," said Siegel. "Our brand is about these big personalities, and about creating real emotional engagement with our consumers."

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