OPINION: A few words of wisdom for Qantas

Graham Monkman
By Graham Monkman | 7 August 2012

I share the reactions of Sean Cummins and John Mescall to AdNews' revelation that the Qantas positioning line has been used before by the defunct Carnival Airlines in America (AdNews 2nd August). But apart from this outcome - which as Sean says was very sad - it was a pretty dumb piece of writing in the first place. And not just because of the generic nature of the statement.

I recently read an appraisal of the campaign by marketing writer Rowan Dean in The Financial Review, in which her reaction to the ‘You’re The Reason We Fly’ line was "er ... really?"

It reminded me of similar words which British Airways used in the 70’s, when it was still known as British Overseas Airways Corporation. It read ‘BOAC Takes Good Care Of You’ and the campaign in which it was featured included outdoor in the media mix. It wasn’t long before some comedian defiled a poster with the words "I Should Bloody Well Think So".

Qantas is endeavouring to modernise its image with an equally naive line, and I wonder if the creative team stopped to think of the inevitable consumer indifference which such a bland and pointless statement will encourage.

We are always being told that today's media savvy and digitally focused consumers are more critical and sceptical of advertising messages and claims than ever before. So why are Qantas and many other advertisers confirming their unease with such relentless tenacity?

I believe it stems from the inability of agency creative people to conduct a realistic dialogue with the consumer, together with the inability of today’s marketers to recognise this shortcoming.

With regard to using somebody else’s old line, I’m sure it’s because today’s creative people are too lazy to do their homework, as John Mescall suggests.

Creating a new campaign or developing an existing one requires relentless in depth research - into not only the client’s business but also all advertising in the market sector concerned.

If the agency creative team couldn’t hack this, surely the marketing department of Qantas keeps track of past competitive campaigns as well as current ones? Access to such a knowledge base would no doubt have revealed past advertising by Carnival Airlines in the USA.

There are two important lessons to be learnt from all this. Firstly, follow John’s advice and do your homework. Secondly, make sure you’re talking sense. Otherwise, the market’s reaction to your deathless prose may not be what you bloody expect.

Graham Monkman
Freelance Copywriter
Lisarow NSW

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