Campaign: Tourism - Queensland basks in Cannes success

Campaign: The Best Job in the World
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.


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.


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.

SECOND OPINION - David Wilson, Chairman, Bell Pottinger Public Relations

Sun, sea, sand and surf: components of many a great travel campaign. Add a six-month 'working holiday' in a deserted, exotic location with a companion and you have the potential for a magical marketing proposition.

This campaign scored because it encapsulated those components within a brilliantly simple idea. This strong core formula made it an obvious winner for the Queensland PR team and its global agency network.

As 'Concorde for a tenner' captured our imagination in the 1990s, so 'Best Job in the World' replicated this as (perhaps) the best travel campaign of the 'noughties'.

Queensland captured the imagination of we Robinson Crusoe-dreaming travellers at a time of apparently unfettered gloom. You could hear market investors (like the rest of us) scuttling toward their computers to end their monetary misery. A British winner of the golden prize ticket meant UK media would lap up this story. Intelligent use of candidates as ambassadors, coupled with good use of social media, helped sustain the campaign.

Queensland scored by showcasing its product in a most compelling way, removing the need for glossy brochures, expensive non-targeted advertising and crass collateral. An example for all marketing directors that brilliant PR ideas can shape a great strategy, save millions in unnecessary marketing expenditure and work effectively across all marcoms.

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