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The Power of One Endorser Gives Obama the Edge

The Power of One Endorser Gives Obama the Edge

November 22, 2008

If anyone deserves a thank you gift from president-elect Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey would be at the top of that list. She was single handedly responsible for 1 million additional votes for Obama, according to a University of Maryland study, The Role of Celebrity Endorsements in Politics: Oprah, Obama, and the 2008 Democratic Primary.

Celebrity endorsements of politicians date back to the 1920s. Al Jolson supported Warren Harding. In 1960, John F. Kennedy received the endorsement of the 'Rat Pack' members including Sammy Davis Junior and Dean Martin. Frank Sinatra supported Ronald Regan.

But celebrity endorsements in politics had never been measured until now. In fact, endorsements were believed to have very little impact on voters.

In business, endorsements are a proven business model. Michael Jordan's return from retirement added more than $1 billion to the market value of the products endorsed by the famous basketball player.

Oprah's power to influence is also mind-boggling. Sales of books she recommends are known to increase 100 times. And it now appears Oprah's influence extends into politics. According to the Pew Research Center, 23% of Democrats said that Winfrey's endorsement would make them more likely to vote for Obama, according to the study.

The study concludes that the 'Oprah Effect' as it's probably going to be called now, gave Obama the votes he needed to beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and continued to ride that support through the general elections. So what's next? Chuck Norris endorsing Sarah Palin?

Ask yourself: 'Who has influence over my target market? Who can I get to endorse me for free?' I have many endorsements from key influencers in several industries from real estate to financial services to chiropractic. I continue to get referrals for two reasons. First, I deliver measurable value. Second, I invest time and attention in my endorser relationships.