SYDNEY — The Australian tourism industry and local fashion and jewelry players are hoping to reap a bonanza from exposure after Oprah Winfrey’s “Ultimate Australian Adventure” screens in the U.S. over four nights this week, beginning Tuesday.
Two of the hour-long shows were taped on Dec. 14 on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House – or “Oprah” House, as it was temporarily renamed – in front of an audience of 6,000. Guests included Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Olivia Newton-John, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, as well as visiting international celebrities Bono, Bon Jovi and Jay-Z.
Two additional specials were produced following a week-long Australian odyssey which saw Winfrey, an imported American audience of 302 people and a 400-strong American and Australian production team trek to 25 locations, from Hamilton Island to Uluru to The Great Barrier Reef. Winfrey’s production company Harpo said it spent $7 million Australian, or $6.9 million at current exchange, on the show’s Australian expedition, with the Australian Tourism Commission chipping in a further $5 million Australian, or $4.9 million. Qantas supplied $1 million, or $992,026, worth of transport and equipment freight.
To welcome Winfrey to Sydney, New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally even erected a giant flashing pink “O” in the middle of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and threw a party for 450 in the Botanic Gardens.
A score of brands scrambled to get their products on air. They included Escada, which dressed Winfrey in a tangerine silk maxi dress for the first show, and Collette Dinnigan, who dressed her in a fuschia silk shirt from her spring collection and a customized, full-length gold silk taffeta skirt for the second show. Dinnigan claims she received over 1,000 emails and text messages after shots of the show’s taping were published and has now put the skirt into production.
Another Sydney designer, Camilla Franks, received a major publicity boost when Winfrey made her much-photographed Sydney debut at the Botanic Gardens in Franks’ vivid green “Banshee” kaftan with Swarovski crystal embellishment.
Two West Australian companies – Kailis Jewellery and Rio Tinto – pledged $7 million Australian, or $6.9 million, in free products after both companies offered to make some commemorative jewellery for Winfrey’s 302 American audience members and Harpo came back to them with an alternative suggestion: a giveaway for all 6,000 audience members at each show. Rio Tinto created a limited edition white gold necklace with seven Argyle diamonds, with a retail value of $500 Australian, or $496, that was given out at the second show, while Kailis Jewellery’s $650 Australian, or $644, sterling silver necklace with a silver “O” medallion engraved with “Oprah The Farewell Season,” together with an Australian South Sea Pearl set with .02 carats of black diamonds, was unveiled during the first show. A small quantity of products was supplied on the day, with the majority to be redeemed via gift vouchers. “These opportunities come up once in a lifetime – you look at the reach that the Oprah program has and it’s effectively putting our brand and our product on a world stage in one step,” said Kailis Jewellery general manager Sonia Mackay-Coghill. “Our jewelry is about creating and celebrating moments of joy and it was just such an incredibly joyous and momentous moment for Australia. It really was quite powerful and I think that Australians will be immensely proud when they watch the show.”