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Oprah on her OWN, with P&G's Help

Posted by Barry Silverstein on April 23, 2010 12:06 PM

Yes, there is life after Oprah, at least for Oprah. She may be leaving her highly-rated syndicated television talk show, but now she'll be on her OWN – the Oprah Winfrey Network, that is, which will launch in January.

The network, a partnership between Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications, will operate 24/7 and replace the Discovery Health Channel in some 80 million U.S. homes.

OWN got a major boost this week as Procter & Gamble, the biggest U.S. advertiser, signed a $100 million advertising deal with the new network. The deal, noted in the The Wall Street Journal, will include advertising and selective product integration on the channel.

The agreement is important for several reasons. It demonstrates that OWN has credibility with an advertising powerhouse whose brands include such consumer classics as Bounty, Cover Girl, Crest, Herbal Essence, Ivory, Mr. Clean, Scope, and Tide. Since P&G is the leading marketer of consumer products, its actions are watched closely by other marketers, who will now likely consider OWN as a viable advertising outlet.

It bodes well for the economy that ad spending is on the rebound for P&G. It's also a major show of support for the staying power of Winfrey's personal brand, particularly as OWN has been under considerable scrutiny since it was announced in 2008.

Some critics questioned the network's viability, primarily due to competition from such other women-oriented channels as Lifetime and Oxygen, in which Winfrey was an angel investor.

Other pundits, however, see anything associated with Winfrey as having great potential to succeed, expecting that the network would benefit from Oprah's huge popularity and halo effect.

Indeed, Oprah is more than just "popular": she's a bona fide cultural and commercial phenomenon, overseeing a media empire that includes television, radio, film, and a magazine with the power to determine book sales, a movie's success, product promotion and more.

The P&G agreement is the first step in attracting major advertisers to OWN, but its content is critical too.

The network recently announced launch programming including Oprah's Next Chapter, a prime-time talk show featuring Winfrey and guests; Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind; and Why Not? with Shania Twain, an unscripted look at the Canadian songbird.

In another move that put rival networks on watch, OWN also announced that it acquired television rights to the Academy Award-winning Precious.

One thing is sure: With her OWN network, Oprah is certain to make her mark again.

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