The Oprah Effect

In a moment of nostalgia, I was watching Oprah last week while I was in New York. Now, I never watch Oprah – it’s on at weird time and on a weird channel in the UK. 

Anyway, a woman was being interviewed about her fairly traumatic childhood. One of her childhood friends was being interviewed remotely (Oprah’s studio is in Chicago) at his home in Missouri. What would normally happen is that Oprah would get a local film crew in and then remotely connect and interview him.

What they did instead, was use Skype to connect him to the studio and interview him.  How cool is that?

She did a whole show on Skype last May and now integrates Skype into most of her programmes, including today’s show, when she’ll be speaking to one of the American missionaries jailed in Haiti via Skype.

I watched this documentary on ‘the Oprah Effect’ recently and it really is stunning to see how much being on Oprah drives sales uplifts and even appearing in O magazine will create tangible sales effects. After Whitney Houston did her famous Oprah interview last year, she saw a 77% increase in album sales and now unsurprisingly, there are PR firms who companies hire with the specific objective of ‘getting their company on Oprah’.

Jamie Oliver’s just filmed a segment for Oprah, which will be airing in the U.S in March and it will be really interesting to see what will happen afterwards. Will the States go crazy for the Naked Chef? Will there be a food revolution in the U.S.?

Does a similar effect occur in the UK when something is featured on Loose Women or Richard and Judy? I know when Richard and Judy were on Channel 4, their book club was very popular, but does it still exist?

Does anything like ‘the Oprah Effect’ occur in the UK?

2 thoughts on “The Oprah Effect

  1. yep – the delia effect and the nigella effect. whenever delia and nigella recommend a specific product or make then sales shoot through the roof. delia recommended maldon sea salt & fresh cranberries, nigella recommends goose fat for xmas roasties – sales are astronomical. the delia effect even entered the dictionary in 2001:

    “The term ‘Delia effect’ entered the Collins English Dictionary in 2001. The phenomenon was evident when she was seen using cranberries on TV and, a day later, sales rose by 200 per cent. Her demonstration of how to fry and boil eggs properly saw sales climb by 54 million. Demand for salted capers rose by 350 per cent and dates by 35 per cent when she praised them in the first How To Cook series. And when she described a 10-inch metal pan as ‘a little gem which will serve you for a lifetime of omelette-making’, it rescued the struggling Lancashire firm which had been selling only 200 of the pans a year. Lune Metal Products had to take on extra staff to make 90,000 new pans in just four months.”

    Food suppliers poised to cash in on the new ‘Delia effect’

    Nigella effect sees goose fat sales soar

  2. Thanks, Katy.

    The Delia and Nigella effects are really interesting – I hadn’t considered either of them.

    Something I find really interesting about the Oprah effect is how it spans multiple industries – food, fashion, technology, travel, art, music – and multiple demographs. As far as I can see, there doesn’t seem to be anyone like her in the UK, broadly speaking.

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