Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sprucing up the place for Oprah

So Oprah is coming Australia and if you haven’t already heard, you’ve been living under a rock.

The excitement in the media from Tuesday’s announcement verged on mass hysteria. Time the break out the fake tan and slap a shrimp on the barbie Australia – we’ve got an important visitor coming!

I love Oprah. I am somewhat of a closet fan. I love that she is on a first name basis with the whole world. I do find some of her episodes a tad on the preachy side occasionally, but even then I still find it hard to switch the channel.

But do we really need to be ‘sprucing up the place’ as I heard one radio station suggest today? I guess on the bright side, we’ve now got a Prime Minister and government sorted – an earlier visit from Oprah, Queen of Talk Shows, and it might not have been so pretty.

I’m all for giving a good impression of our country, but I really think Tourism Australia (the organisation behind securing the massive opportunity) need to go steady with the preparation work which will go into showing the 'best' of Australia to Oprah, her audience of 300 coming on the trip, and her audience of 40 million Americans (not to mention the 145 countries and 215 TV networks the show in syndicated on). Australia is great already – otherwise, why would Oprah say it’s been one of her long time dreams to come here? We already have a great reputation amongst Americans for having a beautiful, pristine country, populated with friendly people.

It would be great if our country could be promoted the way it is – without the outdated Australiana and clichéd (but effective back in the day) imagery of the Paul Hogan ad campaign.

Oprah announced on her show that she and her 300 audience guests will be travelling to Australia and experiencing different parts of the country. Some will be heading to the Great Barrier Reef in far north Queensland, some will be indulging in shopping in Melbourne and some will be heading to New South Wales wineries. It will all culminate in a mega-show at the Sydney Opera House, which will apparently be dubbed the ‘Oprah House’ for the event.

The figure being thrown around for the cost to taxpayers is $3 million and Tourism Australia will be contributing half of that. It is a lot of money, and sounds a bit ridiculous at first mention, but to be fair to Tourism Australia, what the promotion will do for Australia in the US and countless other countries is probably worth the money. Oprah really is the most powerful woman in television. And apparently they spent $180 million on the ‘Where the Bloody Hell Are You’ campaign and that didn’t exactly go down a treat. That makes Oprah look like a bargain!

Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said Oprah's visit was a major win for the Australian tourism industry.

"This truly represents an amazing opportunity to showcase Australia, the warmth and hospitality of our people and the depth and breadth of everything our country has to offer visitors from around the world," he said. 

"Tourism Australia is finally getting it together.We as a nation will win as a result of this coup."

So come on Tourism Australia - lets go au naturel when Oprah gets here – that’s our best side anyway. Aussies are down-to-earth and genuine people. That’s the way we should showcase our country. I’m not saying we shouldn’t make a big deal, but let’s do it without the outdated Australiana.

If you’d like to get into the spirit of Oprah’s visit try Oprah-fying yourself here. Just to get you started, my effort is below! But let’s not Oprah-fy Australia. It would be great if she and the rest of the world could see our beautiful country for how it really is.


  1. I am way more excited about this than I should be. I'm for sure one of those who will watch this last season of Oprah and probably cry. I am a massive girl :)

  2. I'm with you Amy on the crying during the last season's episodes - Oprah will be missed! Daytime TV and sick days at home will never be the same:)