The validity of Internet polling should never be taken for granted, whether conducted by the public or the private sector.
This is good counsel for anyone who assumes that a poll taken by a labor broker, for example, that uses its own clients as subjects and releases the results in an ersatz “press release” provides hard evidence of labor trends.
Despite this, it is still difficult not to sympathize with Clare Wang (王秀毓), Taiwan’s finalist in the “Best Job in the World” competition that concluded this week.
Far and away the most “popular” of the “wild card” candidates based on an Internet vote, this wasn’t enough to get her the gig.
Disappointing, yes. But it was genuinely mystifying that after going to all the effort of appealing to a whole world of candidates — including a masterly, multilingual Web site — the Queensland government should choose a winner hailing from Australia’s former colonial master.
This may seem a little unfair, and it should be said that the Englishman who won the competition will likely fulfill his responsibilities to the letter.
But this was, after all, a promotional exercise. With the global recession in place and the state of Queensland suffering increased vulnerability because of its extensive tourism sector, the pragmatic choice might have been a popular, multilingual person who could appeal to developing markets where advertising campaigns could benefit from the charisma and personal touch of a blogger.
Ideally, a candidate also fluent in Spanish or Chinese would have been perfect because a very large number of potential tourists could have been communicated with in Spain and Central and South America, or from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and the Chinese diaspora — not to mention other Asian territories whose residents might find someone like Clare Wang disarming and convincing.
Wang’s visibility and sheer energy could have developed a loyal and envious following in this and other highly Web-connected societies in Asia.
In Taiwan’s case, she could have also filled the vacuum left behind after the misfortune of that other global Taiwanese celebrity, New York Yankees pitcher Wang Chien-ming (王建民).
Instead, it seems that those who place stock in the visibility of Taiwan’s achievers in the international arena will have to place their hopes in director Ang Lee (李安) bringing home the bacon from Cannes this year.
In the meantime, the Queensland government ought to know that the free press that it secured around the world with this promotion — through its sheer novelty and idyllic prize — will be a lot harder to secure next time, should there be a next time, now that the Survivor-style stunts and “popular vote” all proved to be a bit of a con.
If tremendous personal appeal, fluent English and a sense of humor and grace were not enough to get Clare onto the island, might we suggest readers follow Clare’s lead and travel to another part of Australia for their next overseas holiday.
Or, better still, New Zealand.