Hamilton Island produces a wide array of entertainment that comes in many shapes and forms. The latest addition to the activity list is a nine-pin bowling alley that aims to provide endless family fun. And to top it off, other attractions the island will boast this year will include the Australian Ballet and the Great Barrier Feast event. (2009, p. 37)
Moreover, beyond the innovative use of social media networks to promote their campaign, Tourism Queensland also ensured the international mainstream media would be included in their media mix. For instance, Nolan empirically reports that during his visit to the island preparatory to the announcement of the finalist, international interest in the competition was at a frenzied level: "When I left Hamilton Island the following afternoon, it already was gearing itself up for next Wednesday's announcement. U.S. TV crews, the Aussie networks, the BBC et al. are flying in to cover the result of the competition that captured the imagination of the world" (Nolan 2009, p. 68).
The winner of the competition, UK's Ben Southall, appeared capable and confident during his acceptance speech, and his video entry managed to win out over more than 37,000 entries from 200 countries (Nolan 2009), including Vatican City and Dean Martin's son (Tourism Queensland.mp4), reflecting the global interest this campaign generated. In sum, Southall was the perfect individual for the highly sought after position: "Already a prolific blogger, he must also keep a video diary of life on the island which he will share with his 21-year-old Canadian girlfriend Breanna Watkins (Mouland 2009, p. 27). Clearly, the marketers at Tourism Queensland must have been jumping up and down at this point, celebrating the enormous success of their campaign, and they had good cause to do so given that they had also taken careful steps to exploit the competition even after it was completed. Promoted as "a prize that isn't a prize," but rather "the best job in the world," the caretaker position campaign was intended to achieve a maximum return on investment for Tourism Queensland by offering a prize "that would capture the imagination of people all over the world" (Tourism Queensland mp.4). For instance, although the position is highly flexible in terms of overall responsibilities, Southall was required to "explore the area to discover what is on offer and to report back weekly via blogs, photo diaries, video updates and media interviews. Other responsibilities include cleaning the pool which comes with the caretaker's free resort home, feeding the fish and collecting the mail (this will be done by joining the aerial postal service for a day or two to get a good view of the neighbouring islands)" (Turner 2009, p. 3).
Even Tourism Queensland's competitors must have grudgingly admired the positive outcome of the media campaign. In this regard, Turner reports that, "Cynics say the Hamilton Island 'job' is just part of an admittedly well-thought-out tourism promotion. Not only did the advertisement website continually crash because of the number of job applicants, but by the time Ben won the post after succeeding at a final interview stage, the campaign had also generated more than $200 million (Australian) in global publicity value for Tourism Queensland" (2009, p. 3). The truly remarkable thing about the media mix used by Tourism Queensland to achieve this highly impressive outcome, though, was its cost effectiveness compared to traditional media outlets. Beyond the low- or no-cost social media networks used to promote the competition, Tourism Queensland also used an inexpensive Web site (islandreefjob.com) that generated so much global interest that it crashed as a result. In addition, the Tourism Queensland video presentation indicates that the campaign also used print media advertisements as well as online job recruiting sites such as monster.com as part of their "stage one" implementation of the media campaign, as well as social media networks such as YouTube. Stage two involved press releases and online media updates concerning the paring down of the initial 35,000-37,000 entries to just 16 applicants, with visits to Hamilton Island being provided to the finalists with the concomitant media interest this stage generated. Stage three included mainstream media interviews with the finalists, and stage four involving the announcement of the final results of the competition for "The Best Job in the World" (Tourism Queensland mp.4).
Indeed, the global interest -- and hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of publicity -- generated by "The Best Job in the World" campaign was achieved through the innovative application of still-emerging social networking platforms that are being used by increasingly larger numbers of consumers around the world. Although researchers continue to examine the specific differences of adaptation rates of these mobile technologies for marketing purposes, it is apparent that the marketers at Tourism Queensland took advantage of what is known and what is available to develop a "perfect storm" of media interest that succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. For a relatively modest investment of just $US1.2 million, Tourism Queensland generated an estimated $US150 (Tourism Queensland mp.4) to $200 million in global publicity, an outcome that must be regarded as successful by any measure.
Although it is axiomatic that hindsight is 20-20, the marketing campaign used by Tourism Queensland in conjunction with the job search for the caretaker position on Hamilton Island was simply inspired. The savvy marketers at the corporation managed to translate a unique but single job opening into a media blitz that spanned the globe. In fact, more than 630 hours of user-generated content was submitted in response to the campaign; at about one minute per presentation, this means that at lest 37,800 would-be caretakers (and their friends) invested a great deal of time, money, energy and thought to this media campaign in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. In reality, though, Tourism Queensland did in fact have a great deal to work with in its media campaign. For instance, as one observer pointed out during his visit to the island prior to the announcement of the winner, "Making a claim that it's the best resort hotel in the world would be pointless, given that no one has visited all of them. I can, however, say this - having been to more than a few, Qualia is unquestionably the best I've ever stayed in. I hid under the bed when the time to leave came, but sadly they found me anyway" (Nolan 2009, p. 68). In the final analysis, it is reasonable to conclude that "The Best Job in the World" media campaign by Tourism Queensland will be included in marketing textbooks for years to come as an example of what can be achieved using a mix of traditional media resources together with emerging social networking venues to promote tourism destinations.
Grier, G. (2011) 'Hamilton Island Earns Top Award.' The Daily Mercury, p. 37.
'Hamilton Island Destination Information.' (2011) Qantas. [online] available: http://www.