The Oprah effect

Via  Marginal Revolution: A study claims that Oprah’s endorsement of Barack Obama was responsible for an additional 1,000, 000 votes for Obama. The study compares vote tallies with circulation figures for the Oprah magazine O and with geographical variations in sales of books included in Oprah’s Book Club.

Her reference can literally mean the success or failure of a variety of products. For example,
when the cosmetic company Philosophy’s “Gingerbread Man Salt Scrub” was included in the 2004
favorite things list, the company was forced to rearrange its entire production schedule to meet the
resulting demand (Walker, 2004). After selecting Ciao Bella blood orange sorbet for her 2007 list, the
company’s website received 3 million hits in one week compared to an average of 175,000 in previous
weeks. Clarisonic skin-care system had their sales increase “10-fold in just one week after her
endorsement” (Goldman, 2007). After challenging her viewers to beat the one day sales record for Lance
Armstrong “Livestrong” bracelets, 900,000 bracelets were sold—besting previous records by
approximately 600,000.
A negative comment by Winfrey can be equally damaging to a products success. During a 1996
show concerning “mad cow” disease Winfrey stated that her fear of the disease “stopped me from eating
another burger” (Babineck, 1998). The day after the show cattle futures fell 10 percent (Verhovek, 1998).
Winfrey was subsequently sued by a group of cattleman claiming they suffered losses of $12 million.

Could the Oprah effect be the reason why, after the votes were counted, the Obama campaign couldn’t be compared with the Jesse Jackson campaign in ’84 and ’88?

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