How `the best job in the world' succeeded

It seems the Internet is being used more and more for advertising and communications campaigns. Even though it "only" reaches certain segments of the population (educated, middle- to upper-income, technologically savvy, mostly urban), users of the Web may be the ideal target audience for specific brands or services, both within a national or global context.

Perhaps the best example for this can be seen in the recently concluded "Best Job in the World" campaign conducted by Tourism Queensland.

In the vein of American Idol, Big Brother and countless other reality TV shows that seem to dominate the airwaves, "The Best Job in the World" offered the grand prize of a six-month contract to go swimming, trekking and hiking on Hamilton Island, Queensland, Australia and tell the world about it.

For the position as arguably the world's highest paid blogger, contestants had to submit video entries explaining why they were the ideal candidate for the job. Accepted entries would be placed on the official contest website for consideration and public voting.

So how was this web campaign successful? From a reported investment of US$1.7 million, it obtained worldwide publicity worth an estimated US$110 million, or around a 6,470% return on investment. Roughly 34,700 applicants from more than 200 countries submitted entries and traffic to the new official website rivaled that of established news portals. The announcement of the winner was covered live by a number of global cable TV outlets.

This is a significant success for a global campaign, as one can only imagine the costs and complexities of engaging individual markets one-by-one for advertising, marketing and communications.

What were the keys to this campaign's success?

Know your communications medium. The Internet is the ideal channel for this campaign as prospective travelers nowadays go online to research their destinations, find out the costs involved, the security of the target countries and see what adventures they could experience for themselves. Even traditional media outlets worldwide, such as newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, troll the Internet for stories.

Offer a unique story. A contest with a grand prize of US$110,000 for 6 months work is a pretty compelling news story. And the generous prize practically guarantees a high turnout of entries. The contest is also open to every nation on earth, providing national media additional interest if there are any local entries.

In Indonesia's case, blogger Nila Tanzil attracted additional attention of local bloggers and the media when she made the top-50 short list. Suddenly, more people in Indonesia began to learn about the contest, the dreams of the other contestants and the beauty of Hamilton Island.

Allow users to participate. A key attraction of the contest website is the user-generated content. As contestants began sending their homemade video entries, more people began to talk as the amusing and well-thought out videos zipped around the Web. And there were a lot of fun videos to watch, from an Indian contestant swimming everywhere (even up in the trees) to a short musical from snowy Canada.

Of course, brand owners retained control over what videos could be posted on the official website.

Maximize multimedia. A picture may be worth a thousand words but video gets to the point a lot faster. It is also easier to use them in viral campaigns, be it as attachments or web links. And "The Best Job in the World" showcases how some of the best content can be made on a budget, courtesy of the many creative entries. Imagine what one can do for your brand?

Be yourself. There is no point pretending to be something else. Focus on your brand's strengths and differentiations and back it up with examples and illustrations. Don't even think about making the smallest fib, because people online can quickly find out if it is true or not.

The use of social media can be challenging, but the Internet has become yet another touch point where companies can engage their customers. And what is vital is to know how to collaboratively attract, engage and retain interest of the target audience.

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