Freak Week: Trouble in Paradise

Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the World” campaign was the darling of the 2009 advertising awards-show circuit, and it truly was a PR triumph for the region. Media outlets everywhere covered the story of the classified ad, placed globally, seeking a caretaker for Australia’s stunning Hamilton Island, and offering $130,000 in return for some light blogging about island life. In late December, however, things took a painful turn, as Ben Southall — the British man who won the job in May — was stung by a lethal Irukandji jellyfish while swimming off the island’s coast. After a trip to the hospital, Southall recovered. But perception among would-be visitors might not be so resilient. The incident shed light on two tourist deaths last decade from the same jellyfish-poisonous PR for any seaside vacation spot. And as for Southall’s job being the best in the world? Seems that was too good to be true.

Meanwhile, over in England, the new year got off to a predictably controversial start with a fitness ad that was deemed offensive to fat people. “Advanced health warning! When the aliens come, they will eat the fatties first!” shouted the ad for a gym and spa at the Cadbury House in Bristol. Naturally, this was deemed rude and insensitive. But as AdFreak pointed out, it was also unoriginal. Grey in San Francisco did an almost identical ad (in image and wording) for 24 Hour Fitness way back in 1999. It didn’t go over well then, either. After protests, Grey’s Alan Randolph told Adweek at the time: “We certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone. I mean, I’m no physical specimen either.”

Grudgingly, we had to give props to KFC last week for an inventive guerrilla campaign in which it promised to help small towns improve their fire-safety apparatus-fixing fire hydrants, extinguishers and smoke alarms — as part of a campaign to promote its “fiery” chicken wings. The story got lots of play online (they did a similar thing last year by fixing potholes), and people were generally positive about it — a far cry from the outrage that greeted KFC when it trespassed at the United Nations recently in a stupid effort to get “Grilled Nation” a seat at the organization’s table.

Finally, the award for bad Photoshop job of the week went to Burberry, which released a slew of new ads with Emma Watson — including one in which the actress’s leg seems to have vanished into thin air. Wrote one AdFreak reader on our Facebook page: “So I guess Twister is out for this weekend!”

Best of BrandFreak: Not everyone hates ‘Jersey Shore’

There’s been lots written lately about advertisers fleeing in horror from the MTV show Jersey Shore. But AdFreak’s sister blog, BrandFreak, took a closer look last week, and saw signs that plenty of marketers are just fine with the show’s racy content. Yes, Dell, American Family Insurance and Domino’s pulled their spots, but others have stepped in to fill any potential void. Hollywood studios haven’t been the slightest bit turned off. Universal is promoting the rom-com Leap Year, Warner Bros. is hyping The Book of Eli, and MGM is touting the R-rated Hot Tub Time Machine. One sponsor, Body Heat — the Parfums de Coeur cologne — even enjoyed some screen time on the show itself, appearing on a dresser in one scene while the kids got ready for a night out. Body Heat places ads on the show, too, and judging by the screen shot above, they fit right in.