The Oprah Effect

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I was reading this in Newsweek last week – the new Newsweek I might add – and learned the encyclopedia of things Suzanne Sommers is doing to ward off menopause. And it appears Oprah has bought in on some of the stuff too.

The article also told of an episode featuring Jenny McCarthy who has a son with autism caused, she believes, by the MMR vaccine. Because this is an ongoing debate, Oprah read a brief statement from the CDC stating “there was no science to prove a connection and that the government was continuing to study the problem”.

But here’s what got me.

Later, when McCarthy was on Oprah.com, a viewer asked what she would do if she could do it all over again. “If I had another child,” McCarthy answered, “I would not vaccinate.”

That gave me great pause.

I couldn’t help but realize how much value I place on my real friends’ advice. Women talk about everything, but especially issues like this. Physician recommendations. A dentist for the kids. Illnesses. Birth experiences. Marriage dilemmas. Product endorsements.

We seek the wisdom and advice of others who have walked in our shoes – and not just our real friends. There are: our school mom friends; our book club friends; our Facebook friends; bulletin board and chat room commenters who have something in common with us. Which brings me back to Suzanne, Jenny and Oprah, who seems like a friend to millions of women out there.

I wonder how many women will look into Suzanne’s injections/pills/creams simply because she and Oprah are doing them. Or mothers who will skip vaccinations because Jenny thinks they cause autism.

I don’t mean to imply that women would decide based solely on one sentence of one interview by one person. But what if they were at a tipping point on a matter? This kind of advice or endorsement may be the thing that pushes a woman to take action.

I can run a hundred ads, have a bottomless budget and buy every media venue around and still not get the bump you get when Oprah’s the one buying the chicken. Scary.

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3 Responses to “The Oprah Effect”

  1. Laura Hedgecock Says:

    There’s a big difference between trusting a friend who is a layman vs. trusting a celebrity layman. By the time you come to trust your friend, you know them well and know their platforms, if any, their intelligence, their life experiences, and what parts of their advice to trust. I think the celebrity lay-advise is dangerous. Many qualified, intelligent scientific writers could weigh in on the alternative vs. mainstream medicine debate, but “Today” wouldn’t give them a 5 min promo shot.

    • Julie Turner Says:

      Thanks, Laura. I especially agree with what you say about trusting parts of information. It’s easy to find bits and pieces of information and perspectives these days but it all boils down to what you want to do. Thanks for reading.

  2. Brandon Says:

    All you need is a talkshow, a magazine, a website, a book club, a movie role, TV network, production studio, etc. There’s still time…

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