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How Qantas Reinvented Itself With Music

To expand internationally, they literally changed their tune

Photo by Pascal Renet via Pexels

Like many other airlines, Qantas has been hit hard due to the global pandemic. There will be a great need to refocus their marketing strategy to be able to survive the recession. But that’s a chapter yet to be written.

For now, there’s something we can learn from what they’ve done in the past, and how music played a huge factor in repositioning their brand. This is the story of their rebranding campaign of 2012.

Back in the ’90s: The Spirit of Australia

For years, Qantas had used the song “I Still Call Australia Home” to position itself as Australia’s national airline. This song has become like a national anthem to the Aussies. It proudly portrayed the spirit of Australia, written by Peter Allen, the composer of their brand’s song.


Qantas wanted to show the richness of Australia and how they were the ones connecting people to this amazing country and all it had to offer.

They showed a chorus of children in their ads as a sign of Australia’s multiculturalism. The song’s lyrics talked about nostalgia for their land which made people feel proud of their nation and eager to go or return to their homeland.

It linked both Australians living abroad with the rest living at home. They also showed amazing landscapes that made your jaw drop while making you feel the need to visit all those awesome places. Clever lads. They were poking you emotionally.

In short, Qantas was building its image as Australia’s airline through music. This led to an emotional bond with its customers all around the world and the Qantas brand became associated with Australia.

Something Went Wrong

However, things changed for the company.

Qantas moved a lot of its operations to Asia. For instance, Singapore is now a major cornerstone of their business.

They also had a major crisis in 2011, leading to many job cuts, financial losses, and a decline in their market share.

There was a lot of criticism that even led to a parody of Qantas’ song. Qantas wasn’t very fond of this rearrangement, now rebranded as “I Still Call Australia 51 % Home”:


They needed a shift towards something new but at the same time, they had to preserve their deep connection to Australia and its people.

Music was the answer.

Their tool towards change.

The Change: The Spirit of Australians

Qantas made an interesting move. They would preserve their national prideand at the same time expand it beyond its borders. The shift was intended to put the customers firstand imprint them with Australia’s national sentiment.

They would use music to get people to emotionally bonded once again with their brand.

So what did they do exactly?

They got another Australian composer to write their new brand song, Atlas. They chose Daniel Johns, who was a well-known artist to both older and younger generations. It was their way of showing a transition into a more modern world.

And music reflected that transformation. Johns used electronic samples, leaving the pristine angel voices of their last brand song behind. He also combined classic and contemporary instruments and shifted towards a wordless song as opposed to Allen’s anthem-like approach in “I Still Call Australia Home.”

Here’s the result of that transformation:

The shift also emphasized people first and all other things second. There are no picturesque landscapes in the ad, there’s no mention of Australia, and they leave a nice slogan at the end, “You’re the reason we fly.”

It’s all about the spirit of Australians.

This helped Qantas to be seen as a more international company while making people part of this change. They even put the names of common Australians on the side of their planes to reinforce their message.

The Australianness became something beyond its physical borders.

Final Thoughts

Qantas had to reinvent themselves and they used music to help them achieve a change in their brand.

They did a clever thing by making a shift that maintained their national identity but taking it to a level beyond their country’s physical borders. And all the symbols that went into doing the music (composer, type of music, slogan, etc.) help reinforce that claim.

Music was the catalyst for this change and for people to embrace it as something positive and meaningful. Their tool was art.

So we see that music is a powerful device. You just have to know how to use it.

Thanks to Niklas Göke. 

By Pavle Marinkovic on July 9, 2020

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