The new Qantas commercial, the first to be released since the pandemic, tugs hard at the emotional strings, digging deep into a longing for a return to travel, a symbol of life before.
The Australian backyard icon, The Hills Hoist, appears along with Hugh Jackman, Kylie Minogue, Ash Barty and Adam Goodes in a revival of Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home, the Qantas anthem.
The message: Nothing more Australian than Qantas and nothing more nostalgic than the images and sounds of the choir first heard in 1987 in the first version of the commercial.
Advertising agency The Monkeys, by Accenture Interactive, has replaced Mojo from the ‘80s when the vocals were sung by ad executive and jingle writer Allan Johnston working with business partner Alan Morris.
Ad watcher Michael Klaehn at QUT College: “Beautiful imagery, great unique locations check, famous Australians, choir, check. I like it and always brings a tear to the eye.
“But who is this aimed at? the Australian traveller, potential tourist? Does it actually still represent how Australians travel?
“I get it that it’s a formula but I think it could be a lot more especially post COVID. I don’t mean change the song, that would be un-Australian but maybe Qantas should represent something more.
“The excitement of seeing the plane and what adventures are ahead, the different places to our own, language and people. Then to really tap into that moment when you have loved travelling and exploring but now you are heading home and you hear that accent, and you know what and who you are going back to and recognise where you are from.”
“The new Qantas TVC is as vast and expansive as the sweeping plains and jewel horizons that it pays to tribute to.
“The compendium of absolutely breathtaking and wow-some landscape shots are complimented by the deft use of national living treasures including Kylie and Huge Ackman.
“But then there’s also some skinny dude with a skinny tie who I suspect they’re assuming we all know and love. Who is he? Is he lost? Did he accidentally wander onto set while they were in the middle of filming?
“It’s also reassuring that the kids are periodically let out of storage and air-dropped into increasingly exotic locations so they can earnestly sing the theme song.
“That aside, the spot absolutely reduced me to a blubbering mess when the grandmother met her grandchild for the first time at the airport. It was too real. Too soon. Expertly slicing and dicing the emotions like Walt Disney with a Ginsu knife set. And while I’m quite sure I’ll never be a grandmother meeting my grandchild for the first time at an airport, in the aftermath of the pandemic, this moment is all of us.
“Special mentions are also warranted for the impossibly gorgeous shot of the kids dustily playing in the golden glow of the setting sun as the laundry flaps about on the Hills Hoist. Equal special mentions are reserved for the incredible sea spray of foley that sonically places us up to the gills amidst the seething foam and fury of the ocean waves.
“The final sequence of archival footage gains another dimension once projected onto an old Qantas plane shed which adeptly sets up the animated sequence of the carrier’s iconic logo evolution. The spot is dovetailed with the gulp inducing sentiment, “together once more”.
“In short, ‘I should be so lucky’ to ever make something this beautiful.”
Tom van Laer, associate professor of narratology, the University of Sydney: “The Monkeys use the emotion of trust to promote Qantas to Australians overseas.
“The ad features the main ingredients for a strong emotive ad: an anthemic sound-track, nothing jarring to distract viewers from the emotion (including the brand—which is nicely integrated), high-end production values, rational benefits that are entwined in (and help to build) the emotion.
“Emotional advertising does not preclude a rational message. It is a fairly straightforward advertisement and could be viewed as overly earnest but the Monkeys want people to put their trust in Qantas again.
“The advertisement uses trust to emotionally connect viewers to Qantas. The Monkeys want Australians to feel that emotion as they stand to book a trip home and then act by buying a ticket with Qantas.?
Georgia Phillips, COO, Luma Research: “The new Qantas is advertising magic. It strikes the perfect balance of warmth and inspiration and is just what we need at the moment to remedy the pretty depressing state of the world.
“Our research shows that people were yearning for a sense of connection and positivity. This ad has both in spades and works as it is so relatable and taps into deep emotional sentiment of the Australian population.
“The sense of connection comes from those heart-warming reunion scenes that we see in all Qantas ads. They give us goose bumps and make us cry about reconnecting with our family and loved ones. It reminds us of our past reunions and urges us to get back out there and go visit our friends – however near or far.
“It has a lovely sense of optimism and positivity which comes from the visuals of the groups of children singing.
“There is an innocence and reassuring sense that everything will be OK to see the cute smiles on the faces of the boys and girls. These images are peppered through the ad to help build the emotional flow of the creative.
“The ad also inspires us with images of the travel destinations – the striking visuals of Australia and play with light, dark and colour grab our attention and also create a sense of wonder and trigger our love of travel and adventure.
“After two years of being locked down, we can’t wait to get out there and explore more of Australia and the rest of the world. We are captivated by the interesting, the wonderful and the beautiful.
“The use of the music also strikes a chord with us. It is nostalgic, emotive and linked to a sense of emotional pride. For many of us, this is our real national anthem. And how clever are Qantas to continue using this music and lean into this strong distinctive brand asset. No further branding is even needed.
“And to top it all off, like the icing on the cake we have several well-known Australian celebrities to both engage us, but also cue a sense of ownership and nostalgia. People away, and those coming home. We connect. We relate. And it leaves us wanting to travel – wherever that might be.”
Sam Walters, general manager, consulting, Cubery: “It was a long time coming, but was it worth the wait? There’s no doubting QANTAS have delivered a visually beautiful ad in this latest refresh of I Still Call Australia Hom’, but looking beyond the breathtaking landscapes and famous faces, is it likely to be effective for the brand?
“All indicators point to it being a resounding ‘yes’. Mirroring the theme of their Fly Away campaign from last year, the creative talks to the powerful, universal human truth around connection and comfort in familiarity — prioritising emotion over conveying more functional messages around the brand.
“Ads that evoke feelings, are typically remembered — and you’d have to say the ad delivers this in spades.
“Ultimately though, such a big budget ad can’t just be entertaining, it needs to be ‘sponsored entertainment’ — with viewers left in no doubt it was for QANTAS — and it looks to be another ‘win’ here.
“Not only does the creative successfully deliver an array of the brand’s distinctive assets and cues throughout — including the unmistakable soundtrack — it seamlessly integrates the brand, ensuring QANTAS is the facilitator of the emotional journey. Through effectively reminding the viewer what they love about travel, Australia and QANTAS — they can expect a powerful outcome for the brand.”
By Chris Pash