My Open Letter to Oprah!
I am following your Weight Watchers news with genuine fascination. Oprah, as a new owner, board member, spokesperson cum chapter member, you’ve thrown a 99-yard Hail Mary pass to score a genuine touchdown for the underdog (and under water) company.
Your own struggle with weight is the stuff of legend. We all remember Optifast. Your ability to illuminate little known brands and make them best-sellers is nearly mythic. Spanx? Book clubs? (Full disclosure, you included my book Shopportunity! as a Christmas Selects. Big time thanks.)
So no wonder the stock price has more than doubled in a day.
Still, you no longer boast a daily talk show. The OWN channel doesn’t seem to be must-see TV. Is anyone still reading any magazine in print? Hmm.
Are the ka-ching! sounds we’re hearing the drumbeat of inevitable growth due to the magical, mystical music of The Oprah Effect? Or, more a noise reverberating in the echo chamber of how media and personality used to work? Is this simply the flop sweat of desperate private equity guys trying to slap fresh news on an aging story so they can exit with their pride and portfolio intact? Or is there potential even more compelling at work?
You’ve got a $3 billion net worth war chest. You’ve augmented that number during the past four days by something like $73 million. That’s the move on six million shares. My question for you: Why stop with Weight Watchers? Double down. The press release explaining the halo the Oprah Brand provides Weight Watchers suggests an expansion into consumer health and lifestyle, beyond ‘simple’ weight loss.
My modest proposal, Oprah: Why not make this the first move into the creation of a global women’s Wellness (or Happiness) Conglomerate. You should be able to pick up a chunk of Avon at a similar bargain and resuscitate its model too: It’s selling at less than $4 today. So grab six million shares there. You could probably scoop up some Yahoo, too. Why not make a grab for Penny’s? Stitch them all together. Make a genuine difference in real women’s real lives, every day. You’ll need a Big Food company and, for sure, a bank. P&G probably has a Brand or two it will sell you. Let’s get a health insurance company on board. Let’s put the “own it” in OWN, Oprah. Call me?