Tens of thousands of people are leaving Ireland because they can't find work. But one frustrated job hunter, Féilim Mac An Iomaire, has refused — and captured the nation's imagination with an inventive public relations stunt.
"SAVE ME FROM EMIGRATION," reads Mac An Iomaire's billboard in the heart of Dublin, Ireland, the focal point for a novel social media-driven campaign that advertises his 10-month search for work and desire to stay in Ireland.
The effort has cost him about $2,800 and given him a priceless global spotlight for his skills as a marketer and dealmaker.
Barely two days after rebranding himself as an Irish everyman named "Jobless Paddy," Mac An Iomaire (pronounced un-O-mora) appears certain to have achieved his goal of landing a good job, most likely in Dublin.
"I couldn't have imagined the effect my campaign has had. I expected to get maybe 10 offers and, hopefully, someone would really want me. But I'm just overwhelmed now," the 26-year-old Mac An Iomaire said last week between seemingly endless calls, tweets and Facebook posts from well-wishers and tipsters.
Mac An Iomaire, a commerce and marketing graduate of National University of Ireland, said that his more than 100 applications last year yielded only two inconclusive job interviews — a typical experience in a country suffering nearly 15 percent unemployment and experiencing its biggest wave of emigration since the 1980s.
"I felt I needed to use a billboard to get my cause out there. Then I wanted to drive interest through the power of social media, so I was quick to set up Twitter and Facebook pages, and got tweeting my friends and posting right away," Mac An Iomaire said.
The billboard, placed strategically on Merrion Road — Dublin's answer to Beverly Hills — piqued Irish media interest and set the Internet alight.
Mac An Iomaire has been on Ireland's national TV and top radio stations and received more than 100 requests from companies seeking his credentials.
More than a dozen job-hunting threads on Ireland's biggest Internet chat room, boards.ie, are debating the merits of his media-savvy gambit.
Evening commuters slow down to catch the ad.
"That's a work of genius. Exactly the kind of brains we need to keep in Ireland. There's an army of out-of-work Paddies, but only one Jobless Paddy," said accountant David Daly, 39, one of scores of passing motorists who stopped to photograph the billboard.
Mac An Iomaire acknowledges his pitch was calculated, in part, to appeal to Ireland's hurt pride as a nation.