Oprah OWNs Her Brand. Will Fans?


Oprah Winfrey is less than a month away from the launch of OWN: the Oprah Winfrey Network, her 24/7 cable network backed, produced and distributed by Discovery.

A slick campaign featuring a tune by will.i.am (whose Black Eyed Peas provided her with a 24th season flash mob surprise and were featured in her 25th season ultimate favorite things special) is now running in US movie theaters and on TV.[more]

Discovery, meanwhile, has been busy talking up the launch to cable, satellite and telco TV operators ahead of the January 1st launch. Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori pins a successful debut of the Oprah Winfrey Network on four A’s — not the advertising association, but (as he tells Broadcasting & Cable) “the artist… the affiliates (distributors)…the advertisers. And of course, probably, the most important A is the audience.”

“Now, here we are,” says Oprah in the one-minute promo, above. “This is our day. This is our moment.” One wonders if she’s talking about her brand, her network, or we, the viewers? All three,

Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am calls out to dreamers, believers and “tomorrow leaders” in the exclusive song he wrote for Oprah, called “Own It.”

“Our Phase 1, which is what we’re doing right now, is, ‘What is OWN? Where is OWN? When is OWN?,’ ” comments Darren Schillace, the channel’s VP consumer marketing, to the New York Times.

OWN’s real estate is still occupied by the Discovery Health Channel until Dec. 31st. So this campaign is about managing expectations — particularly the one that Oprah will be appearing all the time. She won’t. In fact she’s committed to only 70 original hours a year, in a similar model to her Sirius XM deal.

Starting next week, OWN billboards will hit New York’s Times Square and Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, while the week between Christmas and New Year’s will see countdown clock spots run online and on radio. “We organically have the biggest buzz driver in the world in Oprah,” says Schillace.

The initial line-up was announced back in November, along with the promise of OWN being “entertaining and inspiring.”

Oprah has inspired and entertained us with her signature program The Oprah Winfrey Show since September 8, 1986 – nearly 5,000 episodes, the highest-rated talk show in American television history, countless accolades.

But now that era is nearly over and a new era is beginning, as the reigning queen of daytime television will (literally) launch on her OWN, as an industry and an audience tune in for her second act.

Her loyal viewers and audience members, such as those en route to Australia today, will certainly be watching; will you?