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In one of the smarter moves that Aussie tourism has made in recent years, they’ve just flown a lucky group of Oprah audience members to Australia.

Oprah’s now officially on her way to Australia in the comfort of private jet while the rest of her entourage arrived in Sydney this morning. The plan to convert your average Oprah audience into passionate Aussie advocates is a really clever marketing strategy. I suspect that the audience members lucky enough to be here won’t see anything other than the best our country has to offer… and whatever they see, they won’t see enough of it. They’ll all return to Sydney next week for the filming of three shows at the “Oprah” house.

Oprah’s 450 guests likely won’t visit all the places that are probably considered quintessentially Australian… and nor should they. Some places in Oz offer tourists more of an ‘experience’ than the unadulterated pleasure they’ll get from their current itinerary.

The global exposure will put Australia back on the map and generate tens of millions in tourist revenue dollars.

Big Mac for Comment

Cash for Comment is very much an Australian phrase that was coined as part of a scandal in 1999 concerning radio hosts presenting paid advertising as part of editorial comment. The Australian newspaper has revealed that McDonald’s had paid Oprah to portray McCafes as being highly popular and a trendy hangout as part of a sponsorship deal in precisely the same way.

Watch Channel 10’s Carrie Bickmore’s “Crash Course in the Australian Way” segment below.

“While there are a lot of differences, there is one comforting similarity… while you have your diners, we have McCafes. Guys come for business meetings, girls come for a catch-up over coffee. It’s all just a little bit fancy.”

Rubbish.

Carrie Bickmore’s Wikipedia page has undergone some serious edits in recent days where she’s being labelled a “sell-out” and a “fraud”.

Given Oprah’s less than flattering physique, I understand that she would be willing to compromise her values for a free cheeseburger, but if the talk show is after a serious appraisal of what our country has to offer, she’s off to a bad start.

Personally, I don’t know of anybody that’s been to a McCafe. I think I may have gone there a few years back to use a restroom. It’s certainly not “a little bit fancy”. Ironically, it’s their lack of popularity that likely prompted McDonald’s into promoting them.

Failed campaigns?

The Oprah-Gate promo isn’t the first time Australian population were been portrayed as people that we’re not.

Remember Paul Hogan and “…I’ll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you”? Well, first, the actual slogan of that campaign was “Come and say G’day”, but it never caught on. As somebody that frequents the USA at least once I month I get a little sick of people saying it – especially when we don’t use the word “shrimp”. The word “prawn” was replaced to give the US audience an easier way in which to relate.

How about the 180-million dollar “Where the bloody hell are you? campaign failure of 2006? It was a dismal flop that painted Aussies as unsophisticated baboons. The campaign had the ill-effect of reducing tourism to Australia. Zew Zealand was thankful.

As for the Big Mac for Comment debacle, claiming Aussies have a penchant for Macca’s is not where it ends. Apparently we call men ‘blokes’ and females ‘sheilas’. I’m also well-informed via Bickmore’s insightful report that we don’t use the term ‘G’day’… although that’s news to me. This video seriously misrepresents the Australian vernacular.

There’s no hiding Australia’s charm once Oprah’s guests start seeing the country. Hopefully their stay will be unencumbered by the flurry of media and advertising that is likely to play a huge part.

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