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Marketplace Morning Report

Which brand is bigger: Oprah or Starbucks?

Kate Davidson Apr 29, 2014
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Starting Tuesday, you can stroll into Starbucks for a Chai Tea with Oprah’s name on it – Teavana Oprah Chai, to be exact. Oprah Winfrey’s product and book endorsements used to send sales through the roof. But will the “Oprah Effect” hold, now that she’s teamed up with a corporate giant?

“No,” says marketing consultant Jonathan Salem Baskin.

He says it’s been a while since Oprah was a TV regular. But he says any sales are a win-win for Oprah, since proceeds help her youth education work.

“The only potential downside exists for Starbucks,” he says. “However sincerely they want to help Oprah support her schools, their goal is to sell a boatload of cups of tea.”

Brand-building expert Denise Lee Yohn thinks Starbucks, known for its coffee, may have this incentive to use Oprah’s name.

“Tea may be perceived as being more exclusive, more upscale,” she says. Oprah’s known for her taste, but, “she also has very mainstream appeal. So this may be a way for Starbucks to make tea seem more accessible and relevant to the average person.”

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