New Qantas TV ad – “you’re the reason we fly”

2007 to present

After much anticipation the new Qantas campaign has launched.

The ad features the new tagline “You’re the reason we fly” with a Daniel Johns track, titled “Atlas”. Somewhat put in the shade by the latest Telstra “Land Down Under” track. The ad also has a new logo, a compilation of 22,000 Australian faces which make up the flying kangaroo.

It’s interesting that the campaign has dropped the famous song “I still call Australia Home” and has also moved away from iconic Australian images.

Featuring real people is a “see-through” strategy to ensure that “real” people feel that this is their airline (and that’s the reason they fly…). It hopes to be relevant to them and that they will relate to it. As an iconic national carrier, that has arguably lost it’s way, this is quite a risk. The notional change from “Australia’s” to “Australian‘s” airline indicated that this was coming.

The question is what does the ad do to either inspire people afresh or change attitudes? And there is a bit of a negative mountain to climb in many travelers minds both perceived (press negativity) and experienced (the entertainment isn’t working, it’s late again etc)

Emotionally it engages through the everyday people it hopes to be relevant to. Some nice shots and as you would expect beautifully produced. The launch campaign is customer-focused, featuring Australian’s from the coast, the cities and the country, a destination-based TVC will follow.

Unfortunately the depiction of everyday people is somewhat generic. The “reasons to believe” or think differently about the carrier are absent.

I believe advertising must have a creative message that sells (really!). I’m not sure what I am asked to buy in this ad or what attitude I am expected to change? In other words it is generic.

The previous ad famously became an anthem for all that was great about Australia (and delivered by Qantas).

This seems to lack any proprietary backbone in terms of what is unique about Qantas. Owning the place was one thing that resonated as it is a national carrier going to all parts of the country (less true these days). Owning the people is quite a different proposition that relies on delivering superb service which judging from on-line comments is somewhat lacking of late.

In comparison to the Virgin ad which stressed a fast pace and determined approach to service (…showing staff, service and boasting a lot of planes no less!), this ad falls short on delivering a message that you can grab hold of and believe in. At this stage in the brand journey, people need a bit more substance to believe in.

The compilation logo treatment has a lot more style than substance and is perhaps too wrapped up in the strategy of “Australian’s” versus a clear depiction of the logo, particularly when there are no other clear brand references in the ad – I believe that you can never assume that everyone seeing it knows who it is for.

I completely get where the ad is trying to position the brand, I’m just not sure it is as convincing as it needs to be.

As a recent article put it the new generation of traveller has no emotional attachment to Qantas and its wider significance to the country, also suggesting that:

Qantas is coming home to an empty house, with a sign pinned to the fridge saying, “Your chicken dinner – or beef dinner if we cannot fulfil your first choice – is in the dog” and an ever-growing stack of bills to pay.

A lot of work to be done to change hearts and minds.

Qantas has said that the TVCs are designed to tug on the “heart strings” and to “re-engage emotionally with consumers”.

The final stage of the campaign, which Qantas has labelled the ‘prove’ segment, will make up the lions-share of the rebrand efforts.

Is this another example of the consumer being gently introduced into the sell via a soft emotionally charged entrée? It seems to be a trend amongst bigger budget brands to “engage” emotionally first then sell second with proof points (Commonwealth Bank, Virgin Mobile, Woolworth’s etc).

The cynical might suggest this could be a clever sales tactic by agencies. But I think it is flawed to assume that consumers are interested enough to stay with brands through these different phases (and connect them). The better option is surely to make a single ad (or connected campaign) which can receive significant weight and generate the desired impact emotionally AND rationally (Hyundai, Cannon, The Guardian etc)

The team at Qantas are skilled marketeers with broad budgets and I hope that the rational reasons to fly with them (the proof) will be delivered in the next ad against this emotionally staged backdrop of relating to everyday people.

The problem with this execution is a basic one – marketing 101 really:

“what is actually proprietary and unique about this ad”?

The answer is very little. Added to which, the ‘You’re The Reason We Fly‘ tagline is exactly the same wording used by the now-defunct Carnival Airlines in the USA.

As reported in AdNews, creative leaders have not suggested Qantas plagiarised the positioning, they have chastised the company for using a “generic” statement that could have been used before, and for “not doing their homework”.

McCann executive creative director John Mescall told AdNews: “It’s not surprising this has happened because it is such a generic motherhood statement. This is laziness not plagiarism.

A lazy, generic approach to advertising and the assumption that consumers will be interested enough in the emotional “art” to act or change opinions, shows a lack of insight into the consumer, the category and a lack of belief in the brand’s selling points (which are absent).

Ultimately everyday people will judge this work versus the previous iconic work and more importantly, they will judge the airline by the delivery of a decent service in a highly competitive market.

Unfortunately, I think that this work will fly by them relatively unnoticed.

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One thought on “New Qantas TV ad – “you’re the reason we fly”

  1. Pingback: I come from a Land Down Under – Telstra TV ad | SULLIESeverything

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