Monday, November 23, 2009

O is for Outta Here!

Last week, some pretty big news fell from the sky in the world of marketing; and it had nothing to do with vampires or the equally scary black Friday shoppers.

Oprah announced that she is leaving her show…eventually. On Friday, Oprah put in her 20-month notice on her landmark daytime talk show.

The network executives at ABC will need every second to find a replacement show that has even a tenth of the reach and magnitude of Oprah. Unfortunately, they will try and almost certainly will fail.

The primary reason for this is that Oprah is an original. She was first on television to discuss the issues that matter most to her audience and subsequently gained their trust. She is the leader and the next host will not have that same trust.

Secondly, the Oprah dynamic wasn’t built in 20 months but over the course of 20 years. I have a hard time envisioning the live-by-the-numbers executives giving the replacement twenty years.

This dilemma at ABC is really a testament to what Oprah has built. The strong and meaningful connection she has developed with her audience (or customers) is unmatched. I am willing to bet that most Oprah fans could picture themselves having coffee with her in their kitchen.

Behind this fact is an important marketing/business/life lesson.

While I have never met her, every move made under the watchful public eye appears genuine. She is generous, happy and down to earth because that’s who she is and not because appearing to be is good for business. (If you believe otherwise, ask yourself if you could fake that for 24 years.)

In today’s marketplace there is a constant conquest to be accepted by the masses. However, many brands forget what they are at their core: human. The ones that can discover this will have a great advantage (this will require more than a twitter account).

Unfortunately, were currently in a time when it’s quickly becoming convention to teach the exact opposite; to treat yourself as if you are a brand.

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