In Ms. Winfrey's ability to transcend demographics and affect sensibilities lay the basis for the joint venture between her Harpo Entertainment Group and Hearst Magazines' as yet untitled glossy.
"The magazine's mission is to be the woman's personal growth guide for the new century [and] it will further Oprah's mission to make a difference in women's lives," says Publisher Alyce Alston, who adds that the over-sized general interest publication will have an "upmarket presentation" with large photography and heavy paper stock because it suits the image people have of Ms. Winfrey.
LIKE COKE AND DISNEY
"She is an American brand name like Coke and Disney," says Ms. Alston. "When you ask women how they feel about her, she has very clear traits that are associated with her: empathy, courage and spirituality. Her image stands for personal empowerment, and giving women inspiration and tools to get what they want."
It is the Oprah brand that is expected to sell the magazine to its 25- to 49-year-old female target audience, says Chip Block, president of Applied Interactive Media, a circulation consultancy.
"I assume millions will buy the magazine because of the Oprah brand," says Mr. Block.
"She has an incredible credibility that has been carefully nurtured and created," says Mr. Wendt. "People listen to what she has to say."
When the new publication launches, Ms. Winfrey will be exerting her influence in print as well as on the Internet and cable with Oxygen Media and with her made-for-TV movies, videos, films and books all produced in conjunction with units of Walt Disney Co.
STARTS WITH STRONG BRAND
"Going into the field and launching with a pre-existing strong brand is a leg up on any competitor," says Kim Mac Leod, managing director, DeSilva & Phillips, a media investment banker.
"A good example of that is ESPN the Magazine. [It] immediately garnered advertising support, reader awareness and was named one of the hottest magazines of '99," says Ms. Mac Leod. "I think Oprah has the same opportunity."
The power of the Oprah brand has potential advertisers clamoring for more information on the 850,000-planned circulation magazine, which Hearst expects to hit newsstands in the spring.
"I'm intrigued enough to listen to their pitch," says Keith Faust, group media strategist for Minneapolis-based Fallon McElligott, agency for Lee Jeans and Nordstrom.
Mr. Faust is one of 100-plus media buyers who called the magazine seeking more information, according to Ms. Alston.
"I just [wanted] to be the first to tell my clients about this new magazine without them asking me about it," he says.
"Advertisers were calling me up at home telling me, 'I want to be in the book' and saying they want a great position," says Ms. Alston. "I was thinking 'How do you organize the balance of positions? Do you just start giving them out first come, first serve?' I decided to do a more organized system -- the Oprah way -- that's fair and balanced."
An Oprah upfront sales period, which took place Oct. 18 and 19, entailed Hearst calling on the top five advertisers in each ad category, such as finance, health, home and auto, and providing them with a mission statement.
"The 75 participating advertisers will return an in-good faith commitment to 2000," she says. Positioning for the advertisers will be broken out based on those commitments. "When I give it back to the advertisers, they can accept or reject it."
"I think their strategy is unique. It is a way to equitably distribute premium positions," says Ms. Mac Leod. "I give them a lot of credit for coming out of the door with a completely new concept for selling."
Ms. Alston believes the Oprah magazine deserves this sort of attention because it is "truly redefining" women's magazines.
"There is not a choice out there now for a confident, smart woman that really covers all the things that are so important to women in that age bracket," says Ms. Alston.
"Women start picking up niche titles like Martha Stewart Living, Bon Appetit and Parenting because they don't have one that covers every aspect of their lives. Martha Stewart is a brand with a niche," says Ms. Alston, "Oprah is a brand with a vision for everything that affects our lives."
If the title is going to compete in the already crowded field of women's general-interest magazines, Hearst is one publishing house that could pull off a successful magazine, says Mr. Block.
"They could be successful with a million circulation for general interest," he says, "but those magazines start with very low [cost per thousands] to their advertiser. So, it is going to be hard to charge a premium CPM to advertisers.