On Sunday, Oprah Winfrey aired her annual Favorite Things list on her newish cable channel OWN. This year, the media mogul’s top picks included Tom Ford lipstick (agreed!), Macy’s hotel bedding and Michael Kors high tops.
In the past, a place on Oprah’s Favorite Things could make or break a product. (Sometimes, it could literally break it. In 2006, the CFO of Chicago’s Garrett Popcorn Shops, which was featured on the 2005 list, told CNN Money that while sales increased by 100% in December, they were barely able to fill the orders. “We went from making popcorn eight hours a day to 24 hours a day.”)
Of course, the financial benefits typically outweighed the setbacks, especially for smaller brands who would otherwise never experience such an influx of publicity. But as Oprah’s show ended—and her incredible cultural influence begins to wane—does making the ‘list’ still pay off in the same way?
It certainly doesn’t bring in as much website traffic. This Google Trends graphic (below) shows the online searches for Oprah’s Favorite Things over the past 10 years. While searches spike every November, the biggest year was undeniably 2010, the last time Winfrey featured it on her talk show. Will the OWN special boost its prominence once again? While OWN’s audience is still pretty small, it’s seen nine months of ratings growth, with its biggest shows (like an interview with Whitney Houston’s daughter) bringing in more than 2 million viewers.
It’s tough to say just yet how this year’s picks will fare,. After all, Oprah’s still Oprah. And if she thinks you should buy a Smurf-blue velvet cake, you should, right?