Tourism Australia, Qantas benefit from Oprah's latest brand love

By T.L. Stanley on Tue Sep 14 2010

Oprah Winfrey has always been a good brand shepherd on her wildly popular afternoon chat show. Remember all those Pontiacs she gave away a few years back? Well, on Monday, she threw a little international travel into her shilling repertoire, surprising her audience of 300 fans each with an eight-day vacation to Australia. Collective meltdown ensued. Really, it was Bieber-sized fandemonium. (Check out the video.) Winfrey linked with Tourism Australia and Qantas Airlines to make this happen for the uber-fans she invited to the opening show of her final syndicated season. John Travolta played his part by showing up in his Qantas "ambassador at large" gear (including a replica plane on the set). Apparently he'll be flying the group to Australia himself, or at least that's the promise. The plan is to tour the country in December and film several episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show at the Sydney Opera House, boosting the region's profile with the Oprah faithful and maybe selling some travel packages to folks in the U.S. This isn't the first time Oprah's gone gaga for Australia. Before, it was the Baz Luhrmann movie Australia, and she spent an entire hour with stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman talking about how many Oscars they'd win for the romantic epic. Oh well, maybe this will work out better.

Anyone else feel a little weird about Oprah's big KFC giveaway?

Posted on Wed May 6 2009


Oprah walks into a KFC ... No, it's not the beginning of a racially insensitive joke, Oprah Winfrey is actually promoting KFC's new grilled chicken by doing what she does best: giving it away. You can get up to four free two-piece chicken meals with two sides and a biscuit by going to today (before 11 p.m. EST) and printing your coupons, which can be used anytime before May 19 (excluding Mother's Day, because you're a total cheapskate if you take your mom out for free chicken). That is a good deal, but the deal is not what I'm interested in. No one is uppity about this yet, and my question is: Why is it cool for Oprah to back KFC when there's something horribly wrong with Obama Fingers fried chicken and the Obama Fried Chicken restaurants? Does the fact that the chicken is grilled, not fried, mean that that the promotion doesn't have anything to do with race? Or is it that Oprah is a willing participant in the chicken giveaway? Now, I'm not going to debate the legitimacy of the stereotype that black people like fried chicken. However the two unrelated things were associated, somewhere along the line it happened, and now it's foolish to ignore that the association exists or debate whether it should. Oprah connects herself with all that baggage when she aligns her brand with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Even if it's all about "rethinking" or "unthinking," we've got to think the initial thought in order to rethink or unthink it. It's just a bit confusing why she would risk the negative association, but I'm sure her brand will survive. As long as next week's giveaway doesn't make us rethink watermelon.

—Posted by Rebecca Cullers



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