Oprah Winfrey’s face has launched many careers and popularized may products. Has she decided to use some of her own “Oprah Effect” — her magical ability to make anything she deems worthy fly off store shelves — to sell her own line of organic goods? This just might be the case. A New York Post investigation has revealed that businesses with Winfrey’s Chicago and Los Angeles corporate addresses have filed trademark applications for a few intriguing names.
Product lines under the names “Oprah’s Organics,” “Oprah’s Farm,” and “Oprah’s Harvest” were submitted for review a few weeks ago to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office according to online filings. This range of names might be approved for merchandise ranging from salad dressing and lip balm under the “organics” moniker, or used to promote catering services under the “harvest” brand. But Oprah is not explicitly confirming her plans to become a food maven in addition to running her media empire.
A source close to the OWN network CEO, who owns hundreds of acres of land in Hawaii including a farm, said in a statement: “The trademarks were filed for Oprah’s farm on Maui to enable the farm to grow and distribute produce on Maui and throughout the Hawaiian Islands.”
But, business world watchers question this limited intent. “It seems unlikely, though, that someone with Winfrey’s reach and influence would go to the effort of filing extensive trademarks only to confine her new organic food business to Hawaii,” Forbes staffer Clare O’Connor writes. Yet, “if Winfrey does end up taking her food and beauty line national, she’s chosen the right time,” she added.
Indeed, experts note that the organic segment is the fastest-growing portion of of the supermarket industry, expanding at a rate of 10 percent per year. It is logical that Winfrey, as a formidable business woman, would capitalize on that trend.
Organic products also fit in well with the positive lifestyle advice Oprah promotes through her magazine, O, and popular shows on her network such as Super Soul Sunday. With interest in “clean eating” increasing, organic products are a logical extension of her brand, and the perfect entry point for launching that brand into the edibles market.
However, this is one instance in which the Winfrey’s winning smile won’t be enough to float a business. In this case, Oprah will have to bring the flavor.
“With organic or otherwise, food is only as good as it tastes,” Robert Vosburgh of Supermarket News told Forbes.com. “It doesn’t matter the price or the method of promotion. Flavor keeps people coming back. It could be produced by the Holy Maker himself, but if it isn’t good, people aren’t buying.”
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