Oprah’s In……Britney’s Out

GOOGLE and Oprah Winfrey will stay hot in 2006, but Britney Spears and Donald Trump will not, according to a major US consumer survey.

Two marketing firms asked 1744 consumers to rank 61 of the biggest brand newsmakers of the year -- products and celebrities -- on their performance in 2005 and prospects for this year.

The biggest category on the rise is technology. Google, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, iPod and digital video recorders are among the top 10 predicted winners in the new year, the Newsmaker Brands survey by Landor Associates and Penn Schoen & Berland shows.

Google tops the survey for 2006, after finishing 2005 behind iPod, which is forecast as No.5 this year.

"It's a signal that the internet and technology brands are becoming more interwoven into everyday life," Allen Adamson, managing director at Landor New York, says.

Also central to people's lives in 2006 will be renewed optimism, says Michael Berland, chief executive of Penn Schoen & Berland.

"Most startling to me was this overwhelming feeling of optimism," he says. "Our winners are . . . all really positive. It's no longer ruthless competition on the reality shows. Americans want to feel good."

Oprah Winfrey, second on the list of predicted winners in 2006, continues to woo audiences with her feel-good talk show. Meanwhile, troubled pop star Spears ranks as the top predicted loser in 2006, followed by United Airlines.

Donald Trump and his cutthroat The Apprentice reality show makes the 2006 loser list, as does radio "shock jock" Howard Stern, who moves from free radio to a satellite service on January 9.

Mr Berland says US consumers "are tired of the divisiveness in Washington, tired of what's going on in Iraq and we're tired of the cloud over the economy. People want to turn the corner."

But not in an SUV. The Hummer brand gets the thumbs down.

Berland says the ratings are less about brands and headline makers than usefulness.

"When brands get out of sync with consumers or their needs or wants, they fall out of favour."

Source: USA TODAY