There is only one Oprah Winfrey—they broke the mold straight after the original was created: she is completely her own person, with arguably more credibility and influence than any other woman alive. Whatever she does, it turns to gold, so no surprise that her eponymous O, The Oprah Magazine should have picked up a slew of major awards since its launch in 2000. Two years later, Forbes declared it the most successful start-up ever in the magazine publishing industry. To mark its 15th anniversary, Adam Glassman, Creative Director of O, The Oprah Magazine, gives us the inside track on what drives its popularity—Oprah.
Congratulations on the magazine’s 15th anniversary! It seems that whatever Oprah turns her hand to, she ends up revolutionizing the genre: the talk show, the network, book publishing, the book club, the confessional nature of today’s memoirs—and newsstand magazines. Was this her ambition when she started O in 2000? Did she see a gap in the publishing market?
When she starting O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah’s intention was to satisfy a genuine need for a magazine that was devoted to helping readers ‘live their best lives’. We’re all incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished, of the awards and accolades O has captured—including National Magazine Awards this year and last year—and of the lives we’ve touched. Since it began, the magazine has grown to become the largest women’s monthly magazine launched in the last forty years.
What was the appeal of doing a magazine, given that Oprah has other broadcast media platforms?
The world has changed tremendously—we’re living in an age of noise. So much competes for our attention that time alone with our thoughts has become a scarce commodity. O, The Oprah Magazine is an antidote to all that noise, and that’s why it resonates with women, why it connects with them so profoundly. The magazine talks about relatable topics and encourages women to think about themselves in a new way.
O is the brainchild of a strong, self-made, self-determining woman with a ‘believe in yourself and go for it’ message. So, the magazine could be seen as an armchair therapist, a life coach and a motivator. Does this describe the raison d’être that drives its editorial content?
Our initial intention was to create a guide for women to live their best lives, and we work very hard to stay true to that. We embrace our readers, and we’re in the unique position of speaking to three generations: you, your mother and your grandmother.
To be a leader, you must first win hearts and minds—so said John Adams, the second president of the United States, in a letter he wrote in 1818. It perfectly describes one key aspect of Oprah’s success. Was it a strategy, or did it come naturally?
Oprah has always had a unique way of connecting with people, which is 100 per cent natural and just who she is. She has influenced the way women think, talk, eat, shop and exercise just by sharing and talking about the things she loves. Even if she didn’t have a magazine or her own network, she’d still be sharing herself with those around her.
Looking at the glamorous front and inside-front cover treatment, it’s clearly O Magazine’s year to sparkle. Apart from the obvious Crystal Anniversary connection, is there any other reason why you chose crystal for the cover?
The black and white cover is beautiful and iconic, and it took us fifteen years to put something black and white on the newsstand. We wanted to create something with a memorable, poster-like quality, and we definitely achieved that with the addition of the crystals. It took on a very celebratory, glamorous quality that we felt was particularly fitting for the occasion.
Of course, we couldn’t be more delighted that you chose crystal, because it’s also another special anniversary this year: Swarovski’s 120th; so we each have significant celebrations this year. Had you worked with Swarovski before this?
We had never worked with Swarovski before—we were waiting for the perfect moment and our 15th anniversary issue was it!