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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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O, The Oprah Magazine

Oprah Winfrey is arguably one of the most well-known celebrities in the world, and a household name in American media. She is a powerhouse of talent and business expertise as an author, actress, television host, producer, philanthropist, and business tycoon (Britannica). From incredibly humble roots, Oprah's story is revolutionary, and she is one of very few people who can claim the title of being a true self-made billionaire. Oprah's first and largest success was her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. It was the highest rated show in its category for decades and from it she built a media empire (Britannica). Her success is largely due to how she redefined a sector of television entertainment that became more emotional, personal and intimate with her audience and was focused on helping viewers improve and live their best lives (Rak 2012). Since her talk show, Oprah has leveraged her name and influence to enter the marketplace in a hugely diverse set of products ranging from frozen cauliflower-crusted pizza to an entire lifestyle product line for women (Wilf 2008). One of the most successful extensions of Oprah was O, The Oprah Magazine.

While she herself is not a company, Oprah has created a rippling effect of brilliantly marketing products through the power of celebrity name and influence, aptly dubbed, “The Oprah Effect” (Wilf 2008). She paved the way for modern day celebrity influencers who have the power to make or break the success of a product (Alderman 2015). Many companies today rely on those endorsements to uplift and maintain their brand image in the eyes of the consumer. Branding was an enormous component in the success of O Magazine because even though print media presents a challenge break into, due to Oprah's already powerful image as a self- improvement expert, her viewers became readers who then benefited from reading about her advice as well as watching her on television (Rak 2012). Both mediums were complementary and helped further the Oprah media empire. Oprah's consumer brand resonance is what launched her success and continues her success- viewers and readers see her as genuine in her struggles and in how she aims to help elevate everyone through her topics of discussion and conversation with experts as well as everyday people struggling and learning- there is strong loyalty and engagement between her and her audience which is a powerful phenomenon (Rak 2012). As such, consumer judgment of O Magazine was very positive because of Oprah's credibility and reputation on television leading consumer feelings to be ones of an even greater connection to her. Spending years up until the magazine launch curating a positive, helpful, and overall uplifting brand salience as emphasizing the importance of self-care and self-improvement, Oprah was able to propel her following product launches after the show with the same brand imagery and expecting the same performance based on the perception and reception of her in her audience's minds. She focuses on beauty, health, wellness, and components to living a well- rounded life and inviters her audience to join her on her own personal journey.

Furthermore, because of the huge success The Oprah Winfrey Show that connected with viewers on an interpersonal level paired with Oprah's own vulnerability and compassion shown towards her viewers, what is most powerful and what comes across most significantly about Oprah's brand is how genuine it is (Wilf 2008). Her public image had become so well known to

her viewers by sharing her own struggles and successes with self-improvement that those traits translated incredibly well to a magazine format that would mirror the advice and discussions Oprah shared on television (Rak 2012). The first edition of O Magazine launched in April of 2000 following the foundation of Oxygen Media by Oprah in 1999, a media company established to create programs and television content catered to women (Ward 2011). This expansion into the magazine industry was a product of and parallel to Oprah's continual and growing success in the television and digital media industry in the early 2000s. Oprah's presence on televisions across the country and the world was skyrocketing and viewers felt truly connected to her as a person. This extension was an enormous success because it capitalized on an already enormously successful brand- one that was directly connected to a person who people overwhelmingly resonated with. According to Hearst, its parent company, O Magazine was the most successful magazine launch of its time and in 2001 was named Startup of the Year by Adweek as well as Best Magazine of the Year and Best Launch of the Year by Advertising Age (Hearst). Since its launch, O Magazine continues to gain awards and recognition in the media industry. In 2016, O was recognized by Ad Age as Magazine of the Year and in 2017 as Adweek's Reader's Choice (O Media Kit). Additionally, in 2015 O Magazine retained over 12 million readers across all platforms (Statista). Consumer engagement has remained strong and customer loyalty with the entire Oprah brand has increased for decades now.

Oprah's continued success across various different product channels ranging from print media, digital media, television, and even frozen food items is due to her incredibly strong consumer brand resonance. Oprah's following has been loyal for decades and there is a huge community of people that have become a global support system that has been created as a result of her endeavors. The biggest reason Oprah has been able to pursue so many brand extensions in so many different categories is because each product she creates or endorses ties directly back into her genuine personality and her original image- which has bolstered her brand salience as a caring presence and positive influence in the media who actively engages with her audience and is working towards helping her viewers and readers live their best lives with her help. By hosting a new kind of talk show, with a new kind of talk show host, that focused on new issues for a new generation of people, Oprah connected with audience member across all demographics. This translated to strong brand performance and consumer judgement in a riskier venture in print media through O Magazine, but because of the overarching brand salience of Oprah as a person, consumers felt that the magazine was a logical next step and tangent from the talk show. Most simply stated, O Magazine's success is almost completely due to Oprah herself- her personality, her charisma, and her personal relationship with her viewers. Over the years she has created an incredibly loyal following of people who are drawn to her energy and look to her for guidance and advice, and in turn she provides them with a genuine look into the best ways for self- improvement and growth.

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