As industry observers figured out a long time ago, Oprah has been TV's virtual Good Housekeeping seal of approval for any consumer product that is mentioned on her show. This includes books, swimsuits or potential Presidents.
It's no wonder CNBC is airing a documentary based on "The Oprah Effect" because of what she means to specific businesses.
Looking for other voices/brands: Tiny Fey? Rush Limbaugh? Jerry Springer? Jonas Brothers? "Jon & Kate Plus 8"? Sure, it would be nice to have any of these top TV brands tout products in a 30-second commercial or hold a box of Cheerios on their show. But how can this compare with Oprah, one of the most trusted women in all of TV?
The easy answer is that TV needs to develop more Oprahs. Problem is, daytime syndicators have been looking to do this for almost a quarter of a century now -- and pretty much failed.
Oprah doesn't hawk products personally every day -- and perhaps that's the key. (Touting a celebrity on her show who in turn is touting a specific movie is another thing).
Still, others may question that she does it at all -- giving products almost an infomercial treatment. But what's the alternative? How many product placements can you get in an average network prime-time show? How many over the course of, say, five episodes? Ten episodes? Other new ways of TV messaging can be too subtle -- or, at the other end, too cloying.
Oprah has figured out the sweet spot of melding her personal views with TV product commerce -- while still being one of TV's most beloved talk-show hosts.