The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Qantas. Cultural Appropriation And Revulsion At The Same Time …

So recently Qantas launched their Perth-London direct flight.

This is definitely a game-changer for the air industry so I get why they wanted to celebrate it.

But Qantas being Qantas – as I’ve written about many times, such as here and here – couldn’t help but snap defeat out of the jaws of victory by reinforcing the past when this was a story all about the future.

Based on the picture above – taken at Heathrow Airport when they were about to embark on their maiden London-Perth flight – when Qantas say they’re the ‘Spirit of Australia’, they’re saying their country is about surfboards, kangaroos and what suspiciously looks like a white guy made up to look like an aboriginal.

All they need is a ball-tampering cricketer and Paul Hogan and they’ve completed the bad cultural cliche set.

For an airline that’s never suffered a catastrophic accident, it’s good to see Qantas PR are doing their best to ensure they still have plenty of other types of plane crashes to talk about.

25 Comments so far
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Your last paragraph is hilarious. What were Qantas thinking?

Comment by Pete

I should say why didn’t Qantas do any thinking?

Comment by Pete

If you saw some of the decisions they’ve made in the past, they think they’re above all that.

Comment by Rob

on fucking brand.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes it is. As much as they try and project an image of compassion and culture, their actions over the years has shown they’re anything but that … though on this occasion, it’s more cultural deafness than seemingly wanting to piss on it all from a great height.

Comment by Rob

it feels like the old days with a character assassination post on qantarse. not in a good way because this blog has never been good but in a less than the shit you serve up today kind of way.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

Even I’m compelled to agree.

Comment by Rob

That’s more bad taste than birkenstocks.

Comment by DH

Close, but the birks are worse.

Comment by Bazza

I will do you the gracious favour of ignoring your ignorance Baz.

Comment by Rob

dont. hes right. for once.

Comment by andy@cynic

Is the Quantas CMO Alan Partridge, having moved on from ‘There’s more to Ireland dun dis’?

Comment by Northern

I’d like to see Quantas promote a new route to Nottingham

Comment by Northern

you forget youre dealing with criminal aussies, they removed the u after q rule on their national fucking airline.

Comment by andy@cynic

Now I really hate them

Comment by Northern

I like the aussies.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I love the aussies, it’s Qantas I don’t like now

Comment by Northern

If it’s originality you’re looking for, buy my whiskey.

Comment by Bob

Oh I see what you’ve done there.

But I’m not looking for originality, just authenticity.

Comment by Rob

Maybe they are authentic. And this is them being authentic. Just not the kind of authenticity some people want to see.

The financial market (an indicator of opinion of an important stakeholder) suggests that Quantas is doing alright so why change?

FB’s stock rose and they are culturally tone deaf (or worse).

Starbuck share price did not slump after a their week in the spotlight.

Goog redesigned their Finance service to serve internal (ad driven?) needs instead of users.. The Hashtag hate did not bother them.

Like you said.. they do something right, which is keeping planes from landing when they should not and treat their brand and image with as much though as it deserves.

Like you like to say Rob, this is maybe more a wider indictment of the lowering influence of marketing on the bottom line (or marketing’s inability to change internal minds).

It seems more and more companies are doing a Zuck (get away with an apology without real repercussions), knowing that they are just a few hours away from being replaced top of consumer mind by something else (#kanye)

Just some observations and questions as a consumer..

Comment by Niko

I have to disagree with you here.

This is not authentic nor their version of authentic. I can say this because they have spent years claiming to understand the ‘spirit of Australia’ … identifying the nuance that makes the country as special as it is.

This doesn’t do that … in fact it does the opposite of it, which might explain why every Aussie who has seen it has expressed their disgust, even if people outside of Oz may think it taps into their fun view of the country.

And last thing … if you’re saying Qantas share value is on the up, I think if you look at its performance over the last decade, they’re are far behind where they had once been.

Comment by Rob

You’re right, Rob. It’s just painful. Especially the Aboriginal tokenism.

But in their defence, Qantas’ local advertising shows it understands Australians far better than it understands how to portray the ‘Spirit of Australia’ to people overseas. (And arguably, that’s the Tourist Commission’s job anyway).

Here’s what they’re doing. This is the first in the campaign, written by the late,great Neil Lawrence, and art directed by the legendary Chris Dewey. I remember working on the brand 25 years ago, doing research across SE Asia with both ex-pats and inbound travellers, and the basic sentiment hasn’t changed. For the Aussie audience, it’s not about where you’re going, it’s about how it feels to come back home. And I reckon this is as good as ‘Love Actually’ in delivering that emotion.

Comment by Ian Gee

Why is everyone spelling it incorrectly! Its QANTAS people! lol

Hilarious regarding the “token” Aboriginal person. But funnily enough its not been covered by the news media here, probably because they were all given free flights to be on the inaugural hop to London!

Comment by ainge747

Wow…the white guy made up to look like an aboriginal…umm…yeah… Just, no!!! Don’t do it!!! LOL

Comment by Juli Hoffman

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