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

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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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The best ad from Cannes – Guardian open journalism: “Three Little Pigs” TV ad – the Guardian

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Logo of the British newspaper The Guardian

The Guardian newspaper in the UK has a long history of great advertising.

The classic Points of View TV ad is one of the best.

This ad (even at 2 minutes) is my choice from Cannes, although it didn’t bring home the bacon in terms of awards…

It communicates a complicated message of the breadth of Guardian coverage through a brilliantly constructed creative examination of a story we all know. Entertaining, interesting, relevant and motivating by underpinning the credentials of a great paper that is still innovating in the digital world.

A very different perspective and very much what the Guardian brand stands for.

McCann Melbourne creative director Annie Price.

Price has urged Aussie marketers and agencies against treating people like “idiots”, and has held up the highly regarded ‘The Little Pigs’ campaign by BBH as an example of the type of advertising the local industry should be striving for.

She told AdNews: “There’s not much Australian advertising can’t learn from this stunning commercial.

“It’s intelligent. It’s entertaining. It’s beautifully produced and so gripping, it has you coming back for more and more. It really is storytelling at its finest. There’s no doubt who it’s for and you’re left feeling compelled to go and buy a paper.

“It’s the intelligence of the Guardian commercial that most impressed me.

“No denying we make some great ads in Oz.

“But sadly, Australian TV screens are still full of a disproportional amount of commercials that treat people like idiots. Ads that assume that we are sitting there on the edge of our seats, just waiting to be informed about toilet cleaner, muesli bars or moisturiser by a moronic presenter. It’s 1950s advertising without the lovely retro outfits and atomic burst laminate.

“Clients and agencies alike would do well to remember that consumers are getting their information from so many sources nowadays, TV is not king. For us to truly impact on someone’s life via TV, and make a real connection, we’d better be smart about it and we’d better not insult his or her intelligence.”

John Hegarty Bursts the Cannes Bubble – “Make the bloody work better”

I’ve glanced at the commentary coming from Cannes annual advertising shindig. A lot of local Australian reports have bemoaned the fact that local agencies haven’t swept the board with awards. In fact Australian agencies such as Clemengers seem to have done quite well?

It was therefore interesting to see John Hegarty who is founder and worldwide creative director of BBH, returning to the basics and telling the industry to pull it’s creative socks up in his speech at Cannes as reported in AdNews.

The great thing about John and his leadership of BBH is that he doesn’t change. His principles and practical approach to advertising remain basically the same, they just evolve with experience. I am biased having worked there, but it made a lasting impression as John was one of the best marketeers I ever met, as well as having countless creative credentials.

Despite the chagrin of many in advertising who are scratching their heads as to why awards and recognition aren’t flowing their way, John puts it simply:

“Make the bloody work better. We must be the only industry in the world that actually thinks you can succeed when the work’s getting worse. We don’t talk about this enough.

“Obviously Cannes is about this, but what are we doing about it, how are we changing the way we’re working to create better work.”

I think that this is outstanding for the fact that it is true, the fact that BBH have been at the forefront of creativity and that John has the guts to throw off the Emperors new clothes and look at the industry with fresh eyes as a respected veteran of the business.

Not to say that there isn’t great work out there. There just isn’t enough of it. There seems to be a lot of “lazy” advertising, dictated by the need to get the campaign on-air on-time. I’ve seen creativity rushed and ruined as a result of a notional deadline to get it on-air.

John went on to say that advertising needs to stimulate and solicit the right response in the consumer along the lines of:

“Wow, I want to have a conversation with these people’, as opposed to ‘I’m doing my best to ignore them and they’re doing their best to trip me up in some way or another’. Isn’t that awful, we’re an industry that tries to trick people into watching what we do, why isn’t it inspiring, so people want to watch it.”

The discussion about the effectiveness of introspective “teaser” campaigns (Commbank, Blackberry etc) falls into this bracket of trying to “trick” and entice people into guessing the campaign. This assumes that consumers can actually be bothered?

Advertisers being big (in spend terms…) with teasers and tricks, but not necessarily clever in terms of creatively attracting consumers, are then bemused as to why effectiveness awards allude them and their CMO’s are replaced every 18 months?

Consumers don’t like to be deceived or have to guess who or what is behind a campaign, even if advertisers think that this brings engagement. It is more likely to bring annoyance and antipathy towards the campaign and brand. Consumers are wise to it and the novelty has worn off.

Advertising is a tool to drive awareness, engagement and sales and should be judged on these parameters. Advertisers are at risk of talking to themselves and then wondering why no one is listening?

The truth is that advertisers are not making ads that are truly relevant, interesting and motivating and that reach a mass market quickly and efficiently with the message.

As John says the ads aren’t good enough. Many advertisers are seduced into making advertising for social engagement on-line and PR notoriety first. Whilst this is important in contributing to a campaign idea, it can’t replace the effectiveness of producing strategically sound mass market creative to impact consumers and change opinions into new behaviour (i.e. buying stuff).

What was the last TV ad (TV still reaches the most households), that made you say “I really want that” or “they look like a great company I want to hear more from” or “wow, that changes my opinion!”

Hopefully hearing this from John will provoke the industry into some positive thought and action.

His book lays it out pretty clearly and is boiled down to the basics of the two most important points to remember if you’re a creative:

• The truth is the most powerful strategy

• The power of irreverence

The truth of product propositions seems to be getting lost in the “art” of advertising. The same rules still apply. Great products and services with genuine unique selling points (product truths), creatively delivered to attract the attention of consumers – this is what still works and sells.

When it comes to handling a situation or tackling an idea, John couldn’t stress more the importance of these two aspects of truth and irreverence in his book. Ask yourself, what is it exactly you’re trying to do? You should always challenge the accepted norm. Of course, he highlighted the fact that when it comes to clients, you can’t always break prejudice, it’s all about how you make the limits they give you distinctive. A nice challenge to the traditional brief.

He follows up with the first of many interesting anecdotes, featuring one of the most influential creative minds in advertising, Bill Bernbach. After the Second World War, Germany’s economy was kaput and they were in desperate need of a boost. One of the key elements they had to offer was their cars and they needed to sell them badly. They decided to approach an American named Bill Bernbach to try to generate sales for the Volkwagen Beetle. Now here was a car which was completely unappealing and actually not all that good, but Bernbach saw an opportunity in advertising a key feature about it. It was small. In this world of everything getting bigger, and bigger meaning better, Bernbach identified that the beetle went against the grain, and instead of trying to hide from supposed disadvantage, he turned the spotlight onto it and came up with the now famous line: “Think small”…and as they say the rest is history.

I hope that John and his blunt appraisal drives clients and creatives to make history and produce the campaigns that the industry can be proud of and that the consumers deserve.

Woolworth’s Everyday Rewards ad – the simple talking green pea

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Woolworth’s is the brand leader.

Woolworth’s prices, range and customer experience are far superior to Coles in my view as a shopper. But Coles are doing a fine job at challenging that view.

Both brands battle it out with big budget media spend. Coles have stuck to a consistent brand formula using personalities and price to great effect (…even though they are unlikely to win any creative awards). The new my5 proposition is well sold by Dawn. As Simon McDowell, Coles Marketing Director has stated in adnews: “Who are we trying to appeal to? Are we trying to appeal to 14 million bodies who shop at Coles every week, or are we trying to appeal to the advertising industry? You can guess what my answer is. We’re very clear on our brand and what it stands for. We’re very clear on our personality.” Nice to see an unapologetic marketing response.

Woolworths “the fresh food people” have a new agency and have recently embarked on a couple of pretty different campaigns – “Select” as posted earlier and this one for their equivalent of Coles “Flybuys”. Neither Woolworth’s campaign contributes directly to the core proposition of “fresh food”. This is done by Advertorial promos. Price seems to be tackled through short lead press ads.

The potential risk is that Woolworth’s looks like a challenger brand, following Coles and lacking consistency and a core proposition.

Further to which Coles are on an aggressive PR offensive as a Coles representative has said:

“Woolworths are playing catch-up again but what they have launched is a hastily pulled together program which does nothing for their customers. Their ‘extra special’ rewards program has simply taken the hundreds of promotions that they would have been running for all their customers anyway and made them exclusive to Everyday Rewards Customers. That’s why they were able to respond to my5 so quickly and it explains why they have not included any fresh items including fruit and veg, home brand milk and meat (these items are predominantly private label and so they can’t get them supplier funded)…”

Tough talk.

This ad feels like a tactical effort before the strategic tour de force we all expect from Droga who are cutting new ground in many categories with outstanding creative.

The simplicity of the my5 Coles proposition is winning consumers – 5 regular buys registered and get a discount. The Woolworth’s Everyday rewards response is actually simpler and stronger on paper, but falls short as it is pitched as a response to the other guys. It even references (and therefore credits) the competition’s proposition.

I think that the Coles guys are getting to the Woolies guys…as McDowell concluded: “We take our brand and our business seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are trying to sell and serve with personality, to make ourselves warm and approachable.” I agree, the personality that matches the target (not necessarily all of the creative community) is there. Interesting use of “warm and approachable” versus Woolworth’s Select ads.

A great marketing battle in the making and I look forward to the next salvo from Woolworth’s and Droga as the strategy comes into full swing.