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British charity fundraiser Ben Southall won the “best job in the world” on Wednesday – caretaker of an Australia tropical island – after an innovative marketing campaign that highlighted the power of social media.

ben-southh1
Southall, 34, was picked from 16 final contestants in a highly publicised contest by Tourism Queensland which attracted 34,684 video entries from almost 200 countries and surpassed all expectations in promoting tourism in the Australian state.

ben-southhall

The job description? Explore the islands of the Great Barrier Reef for six months and report back to Tourism Queensland and the world via blogs, a photo diary, video updates and interviews.

best-job

Also, if you feel like it, feed the fish, collect the mail and clean the pool – and collect a wage of A$150,000 ($110,000)

While the job itself attracted global attention so did the campaign by the government body Tourism Queensland as it highlighted how companies can tap the power of online social media such as YouTube and Facebook, for marketing.

ben-southhall1

“This is probably the first time that a campaign has achieved this sort of reach with so little advertising spend other than a few strategically place job ads around the world,” said Australian marketing analyst Tim Burrowes, editor of media and marketing website Mumbrella.

“This has all been about the power of people passing things on, largely through YouTube. The main lesson to be learned here is that if you have an original, exciting idea that gets people talking you don’t need so spend huge on advertising.”

The “Best Job in the World” campaign began in January with Tourism Queensland launching a tourism advertising campaign centered around the lure of “the best job in the world.”

Within days the campaign went viral as applicants from all over the world sent in 60-second video applications and news of the contest spread progressive on social networking sites such as Facebook and the video sharing site YouTube.

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There are many thousands of Chinese restaurants around in the UK and everyone has their favourite dish, but only in China itself do chefs specialise in a range of slightly more unusual delicacies.

A glass of deer penis juice amongst food on a table at the restaurant


Many of the restaurant’s guests are wealthy businessmen

The dish in front of me is grey and shiny.

“Russian dog,” says my waitress Nancy.

“Big dog,” I reply.

“Yes,” she says. “Big dog’s penis…”

We are in a cosy restaurant in a dark street in Beijing but my appetite seems to have gone for a stroll outside.

Nancy has brought out a whole selection of delicacies.

They are draped awkwardly across a huge platter, with a crocodile carved out of a carrot as the centrepiece.

Nestling beside the dog’s penis are its clammy testicles, and beside that a giant salami-shaped object.

“Donkey,” says Nancy. “Good for the skin…”

She guides me round the penis platter.

“Snake. Very potent. They have two penises each.”

I did not know that.

Deer-blood cocktail

“Sheep… horse… ox… seal – excellent for the circulation.”

She points to three dark, shrivelled lumps which look like liquorice allsorts – a special treat apparently – reindeer, from Manchuria.

The Guolizhuang restaurant claims to be China’s only speciality penis emporium, and no, it is not a joke.

The atmosphere is more exotic spa than boozy night-out.

Nancy describes herself as a nutritionist.

“We don’t call them waiters here. And we don’t serve much alcohol,” she says. “Only common people come here to get drunk and laugh.”

But she does offer me a deer-blood and vodka cocktail, which I decide to skip.

Medicinal purposes

The restaurant’s gristly menu was dreamt up by a man called Mr Guo.

Boiled ox penis


The Chinese believe that eating penis can enhance your virility

He is 81 now and retired.

After fleeing China’s civil war back in 1949, he moved to Taiwan, and then to Atlanta, Georgia, where he began to look deeper into traditional Chinese medicine, and experiment on the appendages of man’s best friend.

Apparently, they are low in cholesterol and good, not just for boosting the male sex drive, but for treating all sorts of ailments.

Laughter trickles through the walls of our dining room.

“Government officials,” says Nancy. “Two of them upstairs. They’re having the penis hotpot.”

Most of the restaurant’s guests are either wealthy businessmen or government bureaucrats who, as Nancy puts it, have been brought here by people who want their help.

What better way to secure a contract than over a steaming penis fondue.

Discretion is assured as all the tables are in private rooms.

The glitziest one has gold dishes.

“Some like their food served raw,” says Nancy, “like sushi. But we can cook it anyway you like.”

Rare order

“Not long ago, a particularly rich real estate mogul came in with four friends. All men. Women don’t come here so often, and they shouldn’t eat testicles,” says Nancy solemnly.

The men spent $5,700 (£3,000) on a particularly rare dish, something that needed to be ordered months in advance.

“Tiger penis,” says Nancy.

Bull’s perineum (Photo credit: Stefan Gates)
Bull’s perineum is also a delicacy

The illegal trade in tiger parts is a big problem in China.

Campaigners say the species is being driven towards extinction because of its popularity as a source of traditional medicine.

I mention this, delicately, to Nancy, but she insists that all her tiger supplies come from animals that have died of old age.

“Anyway, we only have one or two orders a year,” she says.

“So what does it taste like?” I ask.

“Oh, the same as all the others,” she says blithely.

And does it have any particular potency? “No. People just like to order tiger to show off how much money they have.”

Welcome to the People’s Republic of China – tigers beware.

Sliced and pickled

“Oh yes,” she adds, “the same group also ate an aborted reindeer foetus.

“That is very good for your skin. And here it is…”

Another “nutritionist” walks in bearing something small and red wrapped in cling film.

My appetite is heading for the airport.

Still, I think, it would be rude not to try something.

I am normally OK about this sort of thing. I have had fried cockroaches and sheep’s eyes, so…

There is a small bowl of sliced and pickled ox penis on the table.

I pick up a piece with my chopsticks and start to chew. It is cold and bland and rubbery.

Nancy gives me a matronly smile.

“This one,” she says, “should be eaten every day.”

Courtesy: BBC NEWS

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/5371500.stm


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