Dion and Geddes. It's a Miracle combination
14 November 2004
By GARRY SHEERAN
Saccharine to the cynics, meat and drink to the masses, but the best of bubbly to Auckland photographer Anne Geddes, her husband, Kel, and Kiwi entrepreneur Murray Thom.
Not to mention French-Canadian singer Celine Dion, who combined with Geddes to produce what may be about to become this country's biggest international publishing phenomenon.
When an international pop singer as big as Dion decided to add her silken tones to the almost unbearably cute baby images which have become a Geddes trademark, commercial success was assured.
The only question was, how successful. The answer: very.
Miracle, the 180-page hardback book-CD-DVD combo of 100 Geddes images with a bagful of all-new Dion songs, hit the global market place with a thud last month.
The waves are starting to wash ashore here.
Auckland-based Thom, whose skills in promoting music have been finely tuned over more than two decades, made sure the wholesale market was well wrapped up by the time the last CD was pressed and the chunky, rose-coloured book was bound.
Miracle product - including stationery and calendars as well as the books and CDs - with a retail value of $95 million was sold to wholesalers in 15 countries in the first month alone.
The Miracle book has been published in six languages.
Thom then waded in with a few trademark retail-aimed promotions of his own - a Miracle appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show on October 14, followed by exposure on Larry King Live, CBS-TV's Sunday Morning programme and ABC-TV's Good Morning America Sunday to name but a few.
Twenty-four hours after release the Miracle CD was number one on amazon.com and the book number three on amazon.
The book climbed to Top 10 on the New York Times Bestsellers List and the album Top 10 on the Billboard Top 200 music chart in the US.
"We don't believe this has been done before," enthuses Thom.
By the end of the first week, over-the-counter sales of the book and CD-DVD package totalled 150,000 worldwide.
Last week Geddes held a party at the Rose Gardens in Parnell, Auckland, for the unsung stars of Miracle - some of the 40 or so babies who appear in photos in the book inexplicably asleep in the most unusual of places - and their mothers.
About 80% of the babies were Kiwi infants photographed in studios in Auckland and Las Vegas.
Tonight TVNZ gets into the act: its Sunday programme will run a story.
Miracle had its genesis during a 1998 tour to New Zealand by rock singer Billy Joel, who had just written a lullaby to his daughter. Thom and Kel Geddes had formed a joint venture to link music with images, and suggested they work with Joel. But Joel felt the song he had written was for his own daughter and would not fit easily with pictures of other babies, said Thom.
They then approached Dion, who warmed to the project when she gave birth to her own daughter, Rene Charles, and asked Geddes to photograph her.
"One thing moved to another from there," said Thom.
Miracle is Thom's second words-and-images production. Two years ago his Together project combined words, photographic images and a 10-CD collection that also made it onto the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Despite hitting high on the books and CD album charts around the world, Miracle has yet to make an impact here.
The book has a recommended retail price of around $100. But Christmas shoppers may do better price-wise if they look around. The recommended price in the States in $US60, but the amazon website has it for $US36, less than a month after release.