Tourism Queensland wins both PR and Direct Grand Prix

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Cannes ( Lord Tim Bell laid out why Tourism Queensland's "Best Job in the World" campaign had netted the inaugural Grand Prix for the PR category, he sounded almost apologetic.The phrases he used to describe the winner--"classic," "very simple," "single-minded campaign"--didn't signal much in the way of technological innovation or the pushing of boundaries. Instead, his message was that a great publicity idea carried forth in millions of impressions by mainstream media is enough to win, even at a place where everyone is trying to understand new tools of persuasion manned by ordinary consumers.

Regardless, the campaign courtesy of CumminsNitro in Brisbane, Australia, has wowed judges early on in 56th International Advertising Festival, the most high-profile of all ad award shows. "Best Job" netted two Grand Prix, in the PR and direct categories, besting much higher profile agencies and brands--not to mention higher-minded concepts, including Droga5's harnessing of comedian Sarah Silverman for the Obama campaign and Sagami Rubber's award favorite, "Love Distance." These two campaigns were among the 18 that took home the first crop of PR Lions.

To be sure, "Best Job" did have its new-media flourishes. In fact, one was at its center. Tourism Queensland, which promotes the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, asked people to audition via video clips for an caretaker post that would get them a nice salary in exchange for exploring Hamilton Island and blogging about the adventures for a six-month stint.

These clips, which showed the lengths people would go to for consideration (i.e. stripping and getting a tattoo), of course made their way on to YouTube and other video-sharing sites, part of a massive viral explosion aided and abetted by an enormous amount of TV and print coverage. The tourism authority outstripping expectations for the campaign, receiving more than 34,000 applications.

But for the YouTube part, it's not hard to imagine such a campaign unfolding even as long as a decade ago, making it particularly in a moment and time when so much attention in the PR business is focused on how emerging communications forums like social networks and microblogs can be used to influence. (Later in the day, for instance, an appearance by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone would pack an auditorium here.) All that said, Mr. Bell declared CumminNitro's handiwork a "highly contemporary campaign" that worked both on and offline. And, of course, it was made all the more contemporary in that it was, at its base, an ad for a job in a time when many people are looking for work.

This was the first year that the Cannes festival has honored PR and it was a tough introduction given the worldwide recession that's led to entries being down by 20 percent. "A pity there weren't more entries," said Mr. Bell, chairman of London's Chime Communications.

The Direct Lions jury handed out 50 awards, including the Tourism Queensland nod. The other category decided Monday was the Promo Lions, of which 44 were distributed. The Promo Grand Prix went to Tokyo-based Beacon Communications for its work on the Japanese town of Yubari, which countered a negative image caused by bankruptcy by highlighting its low divorce rate.
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