Monday Mar 27

Issue index

'Best Job' Tourism Queensland account up for pitch.

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Issue #4 - Insight

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Cumminsnitro_team-w450-w225With all those awards? You'd be forgiven for thinking it's a hoax, but Queensland Tourism - the most award winning client in the world this year - is putting the account out to pitch.

We spoke to the Sapient Nitro creative team about their success, some lesser known facts about their own jobs as creatives, and discuss the fact that they'll soon be battling it out to keep hold of the business.

We previously spoke to two of the agency's global principles, Chris Clarke and Jennifer Tan in Agency.Asia Issue #2. This time around we thought we should touch base with the Australian creative team behind the now even more famous 'Best Job in the World' campaign for Tourism Queensland - Ralph Barnett, Merrin McCormick and Cristian Staal.

Agency.Asia: Firstly congratulations on what presumably is the most award-winning year you've had lately. We've still got a couple more shows to go in 2009, but what's the stocktake on 'Best Job' to date?

Ralph: There's no doubt this has been a phenomenal year given the list below. We're drawing up plans now for an extension to be built on the awards shelf: Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival Cyber Lion Grand Prix , PR Lion Grand Prix, Direct Lion Grand Prix, 2 x PR Lion, 2 x Direct Lion Gold, Media Lion Gold; New York Festivals Grand Trophy, 3 golds, Boutique Agency of the Year; One Show 'Best in Show' 1 Gold and 1 Silver; Clio Awards Gold; IAB Australia Awards Best in Show.

Agency.Asia: After that 'eureka' moment when you came up with 'Best Job', presumably you had an angst-ridden couple of hours combing the Net to see if it had been done before. The campaign created on a total budget of just $1.7 million reputedly generated 'buzz' worth more than $US150 million. It would be surprising if there aren't a few copycat campaigns in the pipeline. Do you predict that you'll be testifying before the World Intellectual Property Organization at any point and fighting to maintain rights to 'Best Job' idea? We're only half joking here incidentally.

Ralph: I've seen a number of copycat campaigns over the past few months that have since fizzled out.
 People all over the globe still make a strong connection between "Best job" and Tourism Queensland. It's an asset that's difficult to own if you are not the creator.

Agency.Asia: From an awards perspective, did you yourselves have any inkling that it was going to be the resounding success that it has been? You'd already created history with the most Grand Prix's in the history of Cannes - but some people were a bit surprised that 'Obama' suddenly crashed the party.

Merrin: While the campaign was in development, we had our fingers crossed that the idea would work. When it did, we felt an enormous weight lifted from our shoulders. Award season came around pretty quickly and for each show we updated our entries with the latest results as we moved through each phase of the recruitment process. We thought effectiveness awards would come our way, but the creative awards were less certain. Judging creativity and ideas is a tough job, and I certainly don't envy jury members. It was such a thrill to get results at One Show and the Clios - we didn't make it to the ceremonies, but celebrated those wins as if we'd never get another trophy for 'Best Job'.

Cannes was a different beast because we were there, so we got to experience the whole ride. Collecting those awards was a very special sensation. The Integrated/Titanium result was another part of the ride; we'd picked up integrated awards in the other shows so we were hoping to get something. But, each jury has their own discussions and makes their own decisions. Speaking for myself, there was no way I could come away from Cannes with any disappointment.

It was my first time at the festival (even my first trip out of Australia), so I was just ecstatic to be there, and really happy with our results. And to be frank, I can't question the importance of the Obama campaign. It was a massive achievement - and surpasses advertising in terms of relevance and impact on the world. Its success on the final nights didn't take anything away from what we'd achieved

Agency.Asia: Amen. Perhaps the answer is pertty obvious, but how did you enjoy Cannes? Was the media circus crazy after your whitewash? Would you comment on the Wrangler campaign from Fred & Farid winning the Grand Prix for it's print. It seems to be one of the more controversial and polarizing decisions at the Festival. We'll stick our neck out here and admit that we are not the only ones that were floored that it even made the shortlist.

Ralph: The festival was an amazing experience for us as 'Cannes virgins' and we found ourselves racing between seminars, the bar, the stage and our Villa.
We even managed to gate crash the party on the Dutch tall ship. The media were the first to tell us winning 3 Grand prix had made history, which was hard to comprehend. Waking up to see an entire pride of Lions sitting on our kitchen table was a surreal and humbling experience. A personal highlight was viewing the shortlist entries that would have made for tough judging as there were so many powerful and original thoughts. The Wrangler campaign certainly polarized people and I would've loved to be a fly on the wall in the judge's room.

Agency.Asia: Most everybody would be aware that YouTube played a big part in the success or the campaign, as did word of mouth. What other social media played a significant role in the campaign that people may be less aware of? Please give us an idea of the amount of work the agency went to in utilising those various channels, assuming it wasn't left entirely up to you guys. Who at Nitro deserves a shout out?

Cristian: We purposefully made it appear that the entire campaign was classified ads pointing to a website, or online recruitment listings pointing to a website. However, we did point-of-sale "Help Wanted" posters in travel agencies worldwide, online display banners, extensive PR kits with awesome footage for media to run with. Plus, there were progressive releases to media including teasers driving media to the newspapers classified section that day, social media including, as you said, a YouTube channel, Twitter accounts for updates, MySpace and user-generated video content (610 hours of it). And there was the website.



All this took a solid year of our lives to orchestrate. Because of the way Brisbane is, it was a very small team that did pull this off and there are a few people that deserve a shout out. Adam Ford our Digital Account Director, Jason Kidsgaard our Senior digital producer, Dan Button who designed the website and the entire digital team in Melbourne who had the impossible task of translating the website into every language.

Was it a case of cracking the brief and then putting your feet up, or was there considerably more legwork for the creative team than meets the eye? There's probably not a lot that hasn't been said about this campaign, tell us something that we didn't know. It's going to be hard to top that performance - but we'd assume you've got plans for 'Best Job in the Word II', right? Can the sequel better the first one?

Cristian: Being a government client with international offices, we had to sell this up the line and then around the world before we were given the green light, so we produced a presentation video which took time. We then had to plan every detail. For 12 months we had 3 days a week dedicated purely to 'Best Job'. Something you didn't now about the campaign? Well on launch day the website received more hits in the UK than google, which at one point was 4000 hits a second. I believe that a sequel can be better because people now know that the job is real. Plus we have plans in place to make it even more enticing to apply.

Agency.Asia: Of course, that sort of depends on you holding onto the account - almost laughably. Is it true that the Tourism Queensland account is up for pitch as part of Australia's legislative requirements? You'd have to feel sorry for all the other agencies that are preparing to go into battle.

Cristian: Yes, it is true, and we do have to go to pitch. But, I don't feel sorry for the other agencies because I know the guys pitching for the business and they are really good. Brisbane is full of amazing creatives who just want a chance and now Tourism Queensland has given it to them. So for once we all know that whatever is presented will be made, and that is a massive carrot to dangle.

Agency.Asia: Staying with Cannes for a minute, and all creative award shows, it seems that effectiveness and creativity might be angling toward some kind of awkward Yahoo + Google type merger at last. In your opinion, does this mark a precedent where creative awards are going to start introducing prerequisites that demonstrably show evidence of a campaign's success, such as the Effies or Asian Marketing effectiveness do now?

Merrin: I really think adding a results-focused criterion is the best way to drive the scam out of awards shows. I have great respect for well-crafted work, but ultimately my opinion of a campaign relies on the simple question 'would it work for the client?'. I understand the importance of putting good, simple ideas in your portfolio - but some ads target award judges and creative directors at the expense of the brand.

That's not work - that's a game. I'm a big believer that great ideas get results, and when our clients believe this too, we get more opportunities to do great work. I'm pretty passionate about that (can you tell?). We're not paid to impress our peers; we have to be more disciplined for the sake of our clients. I think the results in Cannes show that judges are looking for great ideas for real brands that would work in the real world. Isn't that what we're all aiming for?

Agency.Asia: We ask all our guests whom they'd feel our readers would most like to hear from in the next issue. We'll let you battle that one out among yourselves. No, you can each pick somebody. Thanks very much for taking time and talking to Agency.Asia, guys. We're sure your Christmas bonuses are going to make all your hard work worthwhile.

Ralph: Nuno Ferreira or any of the Whopper Sacrifice creative team.

Merrin: I'd like to hear from any creative who works at DENTSU Tokyo. I loved the Melody Road outdoor that won at Cannes. Actually, they had a lot of really great work at the festival. 
Andy Blood from New Zealand. I meet him in Cannes. The guy is off this planet and I could have listened to him for hours, but unfortunately he had to go and judge Titanium.

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