Yesterday, I happened to catch Oprah’s yearly Favorite Things show. If you’re not aware of this particular event, Oprah uses her show to highlight the items she finds particularly useful/lovely/exciting/fun. She then gives every audience member everything she identifies as a favorite.
Out of curiosity, I kept a running tally of the retail prices as supplied by Oprah. Yesterday’s total came to approximately $7,552. Yes, that’s not a typo—every audience member received over $7,000 of free gifts, courtesy of Oprah and some savvy companies, like LG, Samsung, and Williams & Sonoma to name a few. Here’s the list of everything she gave away.
FedEx also got its name mentioned more than once. It supplied transportation from Chicago to the show site in Macon, Georgia, for all the gifts. Then, FedEx employees played the role of elves, handing out the gifts to audience members.
Other syndicated shows have followed in Oprah’s footsteps, but not on her scale. For example, The View provides guests with one free gift at each show, ranging from DVDs to jewelry. However, these shows do not offer the cachet of Oprah.
Think about what Oprah’s managed to accomplish: she’s created a global brand, based on her, that companies value enough to spend thousands of dollars supporting. Although companies get the good karma juice that an Oprah mention brings, consider how much Oprah receives for “giving away” all the free gifts.
Even though Oprah clearly indicates that the favorite things are supplied by the companies themselves and not her individually, I suspect people say, “Oprah gave me…” versus, “LG gave me…” By the way, LG’s contribution was its new refrigerator with a built in TV (retail $3795), the most expensive favorite thing ever.
Oprah’s Favorite Things often end up among her highest rated shows each year. At a time when people are using DVRs, and fast-forwarding through commercials, the potential marketing power of ending up on Oprah’s show is huge with a comparatively small cost. With Black Friday less than 48 hours away, I tip my hat to Oprah and the companies who looked outside of traditional marketing, especially for that very first show, and found a format that reaches an interested audience.
What are you doing to create a powerful, personal brand?
photo courtesy of Joy Garnett