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Utah Development Co. ads (1977)

Rod Taylor and opera star Joan Sutherland took part in a million-dollar-plus promotional campaign for Utah Development Company, a U.S.-controlled operation that was the biggest exporter of coal from Australia.

Rod made a series of four 60-second television commercials with the theme "Utah: We are backing Australia." They started airing Sunday night, Jan. 16, 1977.

Rod also participated with Sutherland in promotions for a special televised performance of "Aida," hailing the company's sponsorship of the national opera.

The foreign company's huge profits drew scrutiny, and the promotional activities were designed to prompt Australians to look more favorably upon the good things the company did for their economy and culture.

Rod was paid handsomely for the ads -- a sum amounting to about one-third of the entire budget of "The Picture Show Man," which he had just finished shooting.

He also was treated to first-class travel and accommodations during the six days of shooting in Moranbah, Queensland. "Rod few up there in the company's Lear jet and stayed in the guesthouse reserved for Utah bigwigs," author Stephen Vagg wrote in "Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood."

The series of ads had been scheduled to run for a year, and Utah had an option to use Rod for a further year if it decided to film a new campaign.

However, the ads were not received well and were pulled. The ads, Vagg wrote, produced a "sour taste that came from an American company making money out of an Australian natural resource [and] paying an American-based Australian star to tell Australian audiences how good the company was for Australia."

Utah's mining operations and financial dealings were the subject of an hour-long Australian news program, "Four Corners," on Nov. 4, 1977. The report includes three clips of Rod's promotional messages for the Utah Development Company -- one at a port, one on horseback and another at the opera.

 

 

LINKS

Sydney Morning Herald article: Stars to make Utah shine

 

VIEWER'S GUIDE

Four Corners news program about Utah's mining operations. Includes clip of Rod's promos at about 12:25, 27:00 and 48:12.

 

         
   

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