Over the holidays I took a big pile of magazines with me to read on the plane. One of them was the January edition of Oprah Magazine, the one where she announced to the world she gained weight. I dismissed her PR onslaught before the holidays- how is it possible to be doing press that you gained weight. First of all 200 is not that huge, talk to women who are 250, 300 and then you're talking big. And second of all, she's so rich it is impossible to feel sorry for her. And then I read the magazine and it turned out she had gained in part due to a thyroid condition that took way too long to diagnose and I became intrigued.
Then I returned to discover all last week that Oprah was making this the Best Life Year and I watched. Yes, I watched all five hours - and it blew my mind. Oprah tied it all together - she did PR, print media, TV shows, webcasts, a website, and yes even a book - and it all works. I'm very impressed - not only is this cross marketing carried to its ultimate conclusion but she's having an impact. Last week Oprah took us through five life areas - weight, health, spirituality, finances and sex and gave people step by step lists of how to improve all of these items. Then this week she did a followup episode yesterday which highlighted the reaction and followed up on each of the days - she got a former Biggest Loser winner who had regained 100 lbs - it was so saddening but yet he talked about how it happens and what to do. She had one of the ministers talk about the reaction to his remarks on being gay is a blessing from god. She interviewed a viewer who took the financial advice from Suzie Orman and saved $675 per month on her mortgage and what she's doing with the money she saved. And she had a couple that implemented one of the sex suggestions - much to the glee of the entire audience - and it revitalized their marriage.
So, I'm impressed. And Oprah was even able to show impact both qualitatively and quantitatively - something marketers often struggle with. Anecdotally she has the testimonials from people who listened and spoke on her show. Quantitatively she showed that the free download of Suzie Orman's new book on the Oprah website - has been downloaded - 1,200,000 times - how amazing is that. It will rocket the book on the bestseller list (possibly - not sure how it counts those) and has given Suzie Orman massive visibility. Will people buy the book? Who knows with all those free downloads but she's now positioned as the guru of finances even more than she was before. And she has received increased goodwill by being able to help people in these dire financial times.
Oprah has webcasts every night this week - which people have to register for - thus giving her a massive worldwide database to use for future events and actions. Hers will probably rival Barack's soon.
In this day and age when television viewing becomes increasingly fragmented Oprah has hit a vein. I would not be surprised to see her ratings surge, her magazine subscriptions and sales surge and the sales of the books she's promoting on her programs soar.
And yes, even though I can be a little cynical on the Best Life spiritual stuff - I did take notes on a few of the programs last week and I'm implementing some of the suggestions from the shows. My favorites are the three from Suzie Orman - Have a day where you spend no money, have a week where you don't use your credit card, and have a month where you don't eat out. I'm on day 3 of don't use your credit card and I've done two no spend days so far. So far so good.