Three Years Later, a Check-In With the Winner of Aussie 'Best Job in the World' Contest

Ben Southall Says Cannes Lions-Winning Stunt Was Not What He'd Expected

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You might recall that three Cannes ad fests ago, a massive PR stunt by Tourism Queensland that ran a search to find a caretaker for a tropical island in Australia garnered a ton of buzz, not to mention awards. The "Best Job in the World" campaign, by CumminsNitro, successfully carried out the hardware hat-trick of PR, Direct and Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes in 2009.

The campaign was a surprise success. As Ad Age reported at the time, in winning the first-ever PR competition (and beating out better-known agencies and higher-minded concepts such asDroga5's harnessing of comedian Sarah Silverman for President Barack Obama's election campaign), the PR jury that year was almost apologetic, talking about the publicity idea as "very simple."

Ben Southall upon arrival at Hamilton Island.
Ben Southall upon arrival at Hamilton Island.

But if you ask Ben Southall, the British man who landed the caretaker gig, the job was anything but simple.

In 2009 Mr. Southall was elated to find out that he beat 34,000 applicants to secure the position, which came with a handsome salary of $150,000 and a luxury villa on Hamilton Island in Queensland.

Three years later, the BBC decided to check in on Mr. Southall to see what he's been up to and how he fared in the role. What they discovered was that the job, despite the photos of clear blue waters, beaches, and high-profile events -- such as a slot on Oprah's broadcast in 140 countries and a six-part series for National Geographic -- had its drawbacks.

"The job itself was not what he first imagined it would be," reported the BBC this week.

"At the time I saw the advert I thought it would be like living on a desert island like Tom Hanks in 'Castaway,'" Mr. Southall told the outlet.

He went on: "I put in a lot of work; it should have been entitled 'the busiest job in the world.' ... Every day was a different experience: jet skiing, staying in five-star resorts, diving -- and then writing about it."

If you ask us, he sounds downright ungrateful for an opportunity to hang out in paradise AND get paid for it. And it seems like one native creature would agree, and attempted to exact some revenge. Noted the BBC: "The job was also not without its risks -- not least when Mr. Southall was stung by a Irukandji jellyfish, whose venomous sting can be lethal."

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