Tourism: Queensland basks in Cannes success

Campaign: The Best Job in the World

Ben Southall: Best Job in the World winner
Ben Southall: Best Job in the World winner

Client: Tourism Queensland
PR team: Hills Balfour Synergy
Budget: Up to £25,000 for UK, Ireland and Scandinavia
Timescale: January 2008-May 2009

The job of island caretaker at Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia was advertised as the Best Job In The World.


To raise awareness of the Great Barrier Reef and increase visitor numbers to Queensland
To drive website hits to Tourism Queensland
To make the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef a highly aspirational destination
To create a global campaign reaching all forms of media
To fill the vacancy of island caretaker.

Strategy and plan

PR activity began with a hard-hitting embargoed launch. The launch date was set for 12 January and extensive sell-in was carried out by a team of six for the two weeks prior to launch.

The initial launch happened in Queensland and because of time differences subsequent launches were carried out throughout the day around the world.

Coverage was limited until the British media embraced the story. A broadcast strategy targeting CNN, GMTV, the BBC and Sky News among others led to a debate online and through social media.

Candidates for the role were asked to submit a video application to a specially designed website, and these videos were used to promote the campaign as well as individual entries.

In total 50 candidates were shortlisted and each was given media training and secured media opportunities. Interest and specialist media that tied in with candidates’ hobbies and interests were also targeted. A final 16 candidates visited Hamilton Island for the final interviews before the job was awarded to Ben Southall, 34, a charity worker from Hampshire.

Measurement and evaluation

The story ran in media worldwide, including in UK national newspapers, on the BBC, ITV and Sky News. A total of 7,920,087 people visited the job’s website. A one-hour documentary about the campaign will air on BBC One in July, looking at the process and the British candidates for the position. The finalists’ visit to Hamilton Island was covered by more than 22 international media crews and 86 broadcast interviews were given over three days. Ben Southall gave more than 100 interviews to print, TV and radio around the globe in the 24 hours following the ann­ouncement that he was the successful candidate.


More than 34,000 people applied for the ‘best job in the world’ and 475,855 people voted for their favourite candidate. A new airline, Virgin Blue, now flies to Hamilton Island, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and there has been an 82 per cent increase in bookings to the island resort.

Southall has secured sponsorship deals and has a regular blog, plus TV and print slots secured for his six-month tenure as island caretaker. A 13-part series on his experiences is due out at the end of the year. The campaign scooped the PR Grand Prix at last week’s Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

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