‘Dynamic branding’: The case of Oprah Winfrey

Eitan Wilf*, Eva Illouz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper offers an analysis of the Oprah Winfrey talk show's success as emanating from an ideal typical form of branding that we term “dynamic branding”, in which the gap between production and consumption is almost entirely bridged. Oprah has managed to maintain a dynamic relationship with her viewers based on multiple feedback and feed-forward processes in which consumers' concerns are immediately translated into Oprah's performed identity in her talk show. Such an ongoing exchange of information with her viewers was the basis for Oprah's performance of her own self as a “failed self” embattled with the problems of everyday life, thus creating an equalitarian relationship with her audience. The success of Oprah's brand identity thus derives from its content as much as from the mode of its construction, a mode which involves an intimate and adaptive relationship with consumers that enables Oprah to immediately respond to and incorporate viewers' concerns, values and norms. This paper analyzes in detail Oprah's performed identity with analytical tools informed by linguistic anthropology and brings it into conversation with contemporary branding theories.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)71-84
Number of pages14
JournalWomen and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Branding
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Performance theory
  • Talk shows
  • Television


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