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."
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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