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A Closer Look at "The Best Job in the World"

by Craig Martin Feb 17, 2009
Having interviewed Tourism Queensland staff and applicants for “The Best Job in the World” Craig Martin raises several questions and concerns. In the first of two articles, Martin asks, Is this really a job campaign or just a marketer’s dream?
The Best Marketing Ploy In the World

Interactive travel magazines like Matador are establishing a serious online presence, and tourism promotions like the Best Job in the World are garnering thousands of applications. It’s proof that the tourism and promotion game is changing, again.

  • Is the best job in the world a competition?
  • Is it a job application process?
  • Is it a marketer’s wet dream?


A win-win situation

There aren’t many people who wouldn’t like a job involving marine recreation on a resort island. Even city slickers might consider it for six months. Throw in something approaching a six-figure salary– and free lodging– it’s a very persuasive package.

But the real genius lies in the huge amount of PR being generated. Gary Arndt, who writes the most popular travelogue-style blog in the world and possesses a background in internet marketing, says, “The whole thing was very clever. The cost of the actual job is trivial.”

While AUD$150,000 sounds like a great six month’s work to me, the investment of the Queensland Tourism Board is minimal… because the publicity it has generated is worth millions.

By forcing candidates to show their knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef, Tourism Queensland has collected an immense amount of quality user-generated content. They couldn’t have bought this coverage if they tried. Every time someone watches an job applicant’s video, they learn something about the area… and that something makes people want to visit.

When viral isn’t bad

In new-media parlance, a campaign has gone “viral” when it grows exponentially and beyond the control of the company who started it. The way top videos have spread, the chatter on Twitter and Facebook, and the websites and blogs of applicants are all indicators of a viral campaign.

Fast-spreading media can bite the hand it feeds, though. One video showed a woman getting a tattoo to prove how committed she was to winning the position. Sharp eyes recognised this as a bogus clip and quickly pounced with hard-hitting headlines.

As suspected, the video was created by a marketing agency. Seeding dummy videos, like reviewing your own products, is considered very bad form.

Realising this, Tourism Queensland responded with an apology on the official site. In the social marketing age, a quick apology can do a lot of good.

Community is king.

Susie Parish is the founder of the Island Reef Job Ning community. It’s a place for applicants to chat, discuss tactics, and share their videos.

Reflected in the tag line, “We need more than 60 seconds to tell our stories,” she started the site because “applicants needed a space where they could say more about themselves.” Over 100 have taken advantage of the platform and more are added daily.

An applicant herself, Parish says, “[Applicants’] friends and family only want to hear so much [about the job]. Within the community, they can talk all they want about it and continue to hope that they will be the chosen one.”

A social web

A niche community is further proof of the power of Tourism Queensland’s campaign and the changes in traditional marketing. Susie makes it simple:

“The social web enables companies to interact with and develop a relationship with their potential customers…They have to interact on [many platforms] or they risk conversations about their company taking place without them or having their competitors do it and be that one step closer to their customer.”

This closely relates to the official view from Tourism Queensland’s PR manager, Nicole McNaughton:

“Travellers these days are placing increasing importance on first-hand reports from other travellers when they choose a holiday. So when Tourism Queensland was looking for an innovative way to promote our new Islands of the Great Barrier Reef campaign, what could be better than having a real and independent traveller based on a Great Barrier Reef island reporting on their personal experience?”

The travel and tourism sector can learn a lot from this campaign. Copycat efforts aren’t the message though. The real gold is in learning to use new media tools in mutually beneficial ways: if the consumer wins, the companies will too.

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