Qantas aims at the hearts of Australian travellers

By David Flynn, November 21 2014
Qantas aims at the hearts of Australian travellers

With retro-themed jets and tear-jerking TV advertisements, Qantas has the hearts of Aussie travellers in its marketing crosshairs.

The Boeing 737-800 'RetroRoo' took three days to be painted with its eye-catching 1970s livery, while the Feels Like Home brand campaign was many months in the planning – but both are intended to tap into the historical as well as emotional connection which Australians have with Qantas.

It's a smart move as Qantas plays cards which few competitors can match. No airline has been flying longer in Australian skies, certainly not challenger Virgin, nor of course does any airline represent Australia and thus 'home' more than Qantas.

Qantas group exec Olivia Wirth (below) is clearly intent on pushing both those advantages as the airline looks to bounce back from arguably the worst years in its storied past.

"Qantas holds a special place in the Australian psyche, and we know for many of our customers this livery will inspire a fond trip down memory lane" Wirth says of the RetroRoo jet, which will begin domestic flights from Monday November 24th.

But front and centre for Qantas is its new ad campaign which debuted earlier this month to overwhelmingly positive response and will be spun out through to 2015.

"Over the next couple of months we have a series of 60 second advertisements on the story of the individual customers who were featured" Wirth explains.

For Wirth, the very heart of Feels Like Home is that it tells "real stories about real people."

"We did a lot of focus groups to work out where our brand was and how people were feeling about it" Wirth tells Australian Business Traveller.

"There was this real message about 'authenticity' and 'genuine' and 'real', of nostalgia and fond memories, and we believed that this campaign would be the best way to capture it."

Read more: Qantas launches new 'Feels Like Home' ad campaign

Arguably all that's missing is "I Still Call Australia Home" – Peter Alan's heart-tugging song which has for decades been the unofficial Qantas anthem.

And while the reliable bringer-of-tears was briefly considered for the new campaign, Wirth says "it was important to have more of a contemporary feel, more of a modern sound."

That said, Wirth explains that Randy Newman's Feels Like Home was chosen because "it's like an extension of I Still Call Australia Home – it's has the same sentiment about home, and for us about Australia, but it's new approach and a new way to tap into those same emotions."

Newman himself chose 20 year old Aussie singer Martha Marlow to give voice to his words for the campaign.

"We were looking at a number of different artists. Randy Newman listened to all of them and chose Martha's sound because he felt she really tapped into the emotion of the song."

"And her beautiful voice brings more of an 'indie' feel to the recording which also gives a modern, contemporary sense to the brand."

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jul 2014

Total posts 113

Not to play to their advertising, but it is somewhat true. Travelling back to Aus for the first time in 2 years, I did look out the window at Heathrow before our flight to the tail of our Qantas A380 and get a bit giddy.

Kidda like their story: feeling half way there by seeing the Kangaroo on Red.


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 353

That's exactly so, LondonAussie. Qantas is very clever with this, they know that pretty much every Australian flying home feels the same way. I certainly do.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 259

I recall when I was at SIN last time, after being overseas for 3 weeks, I looked out the window and saw QF planes sitting there at Terminal 1... And was more than happy to wait another 4 hours to board my EY flight home to BNE.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 444

Am I only one of few that thought the advert was drab and basically had no relevance to an airline, particularly the one in question?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 121

Well then by the same token I Still Call Australia Home would hold no relevance to the airline either, but it still worked...I personally quite liked the subtlety of the ad, rather than being told what to think.

I saw it in the cinema this week in full length and I found myself stopping to watch and picking out all the places in the ad. In doing so, I found myself thinking about all the times I did fly Qantas home. I may just be a sucker though

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 259

No, you're not the only one. I don't see the point of these advertisements at all.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 14

What a waste of money painting the planes and the ads, just make the flying experience better and cheaper and we will all support Qantas...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jul 2013

Total posts 35

I agree - there is something nostalgic about the RetroRoo and it's good to see QF celebrating the halcyion days of the past. Many a trip was spent back and forth from boarding school on the 747SP in this livery.

It is a pity though that QF don't seem too attached to servicing some of their regional markets quite as well. No longer any International flights to/from little old Adelaide on QF.

EK doesn't quite tug on the heartstrings the same way!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 259

The EK "When was the last time you did something for the first time?" campaign had much more of an emotional effect on me than the "Feels like home" campaign.

Though I will say that it's good Australia finally has a retro scheme plane.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 466

Adelaide was serving internationally by Qantas for over thirty years and was sad to see it go.I have done the connecting via Melbourne thing before with them to Singapore which wasn't too bad except for the arrival time of close to 10pm.Since they rerouted QF9/QF10 with lunchtime flight connecting on the outbound and mid morning returning connections ADL/MEL/ADL plus dropped the QF81 out of South Australia I have switched to Singapore Airlines.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Dec 2011

Total posts 30

Lets be honest. Qantas has the hearts of Sydney & Melbourne travellers in its marketing crosshairs. The rest of the country doesn't exist.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2013

Total posts 57

Not quite right, Qantas actually has only the hearts of Sydney travellers in mind. Melbourne doesn't suffer as badly as the other capitals it's true, but it's served internationally in a way that's totally disproportionate to the cities' populations = Syd 4.8 million; Mel 4.3 million. In other cities Emirates is fast becoming Australia's national ariline, and that's what's happening in Melbourne too. Qantas should be retitled Sydney Airlines. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Feb 2014

Total posts 7

Hey Qantas have your forgotten already that you don't fly internationally to Perth?


British Airways - Executive Club

28 Mar 2014

Total posts 70

Goof ad, but does anybidy know why  I still call Australia home wasn't chosen as the background music? 

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

20 Jun 2013

Total posts 56

Sorry but what a drab Ad! I was waiting for the emotions to kick in like in the previous one, with I still call Australia home.....need to change this to I call parts of Australia home. The hatchet job they board has given to the routes and departure points is dreadfull. We have a QF Lounge in QF flights of course...long gone. They have litterally handed the competion all thier business...what a way to run a company! I now fly CX into Asia.

therealqueen Banned
therealqueen Banned

19 May 2014

Total posts 40

What a waste of money. To think it took 18 months of development the ad that works as an aperiant.  Seriously there's nothing better than boarding cx,sq or ek planes and being cocooned in your first class suite away from the eco platys.

Finally saw the full advert at the cinema this afternoon. One word: T-acky.

I much prefer the adverts from two campaigns ago (I think)... You're the reason we fly. That song is particularly inspiring without being overtly sentimental. That campaign had a feeling of being forward looking and dynamic. 

Actually this new advert reminded me of the Arnotts biscuit campaign, where you had expat Aussies crying over Tim Tams and Mint Slices. Tacky!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 240

Not sure how I feel about this one. I agree that there is an overly sentimental and at times tacky feel to it, but there was also recently a Virgin Australia ad that took 80% of the ad before you could tell who it was advertising. I suppose it's hard for airlines to find true and tangible brand differentiators to push, so the sentimental comes out.

As a hand on heart patriot of the lucky country, I do enjoy the image of Aussie expat's seeing the roo and feeling that they're on the way home and I do kinda miss the days of approaching the customs desk and hearing 'G'day' and 'welcome home Jonathan'.

That being said, I agree with some other posters, that there are probably bigger priorities for the Red Roo at the moment and share the frustration as a Melbourne based traveller that you almost need to forget about QF if you don't want to transif internationally in Sydney.

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