Oprah Effect – definition and meaning

The Oprah Effect refers to the colossal commercial influence and power of Oprah Winfrey on a product’s commercial future. Oprah is a TV personality whose show had over 42 million viewers. If a product or book received an endorsement from Oprah, it would subsequently sell extremely well. That is the Oprah Effect.

Because of Oprah’s massive fan base, a recommendation from her was a Godsend for a struggling or new business.

According to US Legal:

“The Oprah effect is an expression referring to the effect that an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, or an endorsement by Oprah Winfrey, can have on a business.”

“A recommendation from Oprah can have a significant influence for a new business because, the show reaches millions of viewers each week.”

The Oprah Effect also refers to products and companies that Oprah Magazine mentions. Oprah Magazine is a monthly women’s magazine.

Oprah Winfrey Show

The Oprah Effect refers to the result of an endorsement by Oprah. It may also refer to a product’s or book’s appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. People also called the show Oprah.

The show went on air across the US for 25 years.

Oprah Effect - image with explanation
The Oprah Effect is the sale-boosting effect of having a product appear in Oprah Winfrey’s show. (Image: adapted from twitter.com/opraheffect)

Companies and authors who were lucky enough to appear in front of Oprah would often experience overnight success. In other words, they would report a massive sales boost.

In fact, some unprofitable businesses rapidly became multimillion-dollar concerns.

The first show went on air on September 8th, 1986, and the last show appeared on May 25th, 2011. Not only did Oprah host the show, but she also produced it.

It was an extremely popular show. In fact, it is still America’s highest-rated daytime talk show.

Media coaches would offer their services, promising Oprah Effect success. In other words, they said they had the moneymaking secrets on how to get on Oprah’s show.

The Oprah Effect and Barack Obama

Craig Garthwaite claimed that the Oprah Effect gave Barack Obama one million extra votes in 2008. Obama won the US presidential elections in 2008.

Garthwaite was a co-author of a study on celebrity endorsements in the elections of 2008. In an interview with OpenSecretsBlog, Garthwaite talked about the one million extra votes that Obama gained.

Prof. Garthwaite, from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said:

““If you look at the commercial landscape of Oprah, her influence exceeds that of any other celebrity.”

Weight Watchers Oprah Effect

In October 2015, Weight Watchers shares rose dramatically. They rocketed after an announcement that Oprah had taken a 10% stake in the company.

Weight Watchers is an American multinational that offers products and services that help people lose weight. It also helps people maintain their body weight.

Regarding her investment, Oprah said:

Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for.”

“I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution.”

One could, therefore, say, that Weight Watchers enjoyed a mega Oprah Effect.

However, according to Time.com/money, the Oprah Effect did not last. In 2016, Weight Watchers reported a loss.

Business experts blamed the diet company’s disappointing results on mobile apps and activity trackers like Fitbit.

The apps, many of them free, could track calories and activities. In fact, for younger dieters, the apps were much more attractive options.

Weight Watchers continued losing ground to new mobile apps. In 2014, the company reported a 47% decline in profits.

More examples

The following products and people benefitted significantly from the Oprah Effect:

  • Toni Morrison (novels)
  • Dr. Brené Brown (books and talks)
  • Many charitable organizations
  • Amazon Kindle (e-book)
  • Dr. Mehmet Oz (TV show)
  • Dr. Phil McGraw (TV show)
  • Art Smith (chef)
  • Spanx (sportswear & clothing)

Video – What is the Oprah Effect?

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