Outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce exits stage left to zero applause
Departing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has been centrestage for all the wrong reasons as his whopping great payout prompts Mark Knight’s rethink of ad featuring Peter Allen’s beloved Aussie anthem
READING LEVEL: ORANGE
Good television commercials* stick in our memories as they are designed to do (so do the bad ones, unfortunately). The great ones become part of our culture*.
The Qantas commercial from 1998 that featured the National Boys’ and Girls’ choir singing Peter Allen’s* stirring* theme, I Still Call Australia Home, shot in various parts of the world, was a very successful ad campaign to brand the Flying Kangaroo as Australia’s national carrier*.
The message was that wherever Australians were in the world, Qantas was our trusted airline to get us home safely.
Fast forward to 2023 and Qantas and its CEO of 15 years Alan Joyce were not enjoying the same warm and fuzzy affection from the Australian flying public.
Expensive airfares, job losses, lost baggage, refunds for cancelled flights making it difficult or near impossible to join the growing list of customer service complaints, $2 billion in government assistance to get through Covid, and the CEO’s huge farewell payments and bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars.
The Australian parliament was also investigating the allegation* that the government may have blocked Qatar airlines from flying more frequently in and out of Australia, which some saw as protecting Qantas, reducing competition and keeping the cost of airfares high.
Clearly Qantas had a bit of work to do in order to improve its brand*.
What they needed, obviously, was a new advertising campaign* to reset their damaged image. A campaign as successful and as patriotically* emotional as the I Still Call Australia Home series of advertisements.
Being the cartoonist that I am, I thought I could devise* an ad that would sum up what the airline was all about. So I set out to reuse the kids’ choir idea, with the children in their white shirts and black pants standing in the Australian desert with Uluru in the background: clearly identifiable* as the famous Qantas ad but, like all memorable cartoons, it would need a bit of a twist. So among the kids all standing to attention and singing, I inserted the diminutive* Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, with his big black glasses. He is singing along as well.
But what are they singing?
This is the punchline* of the cartoon and where I earn my money. I decided to take the Peter Allen song but rewrite it with the words reflecting what has happened to Qantas. The poor service, the job losses and even the CEO’s huge payout are all referred to in the new lyrics*. The Qantas boss had taken early leave of his position that day so a large hook reaches out from stage left* to remove Mr Joyce from the scene.
When people read the cartoon, hopefully they will recall the melody* of the original tune and play it in their heads with my new wording.
My apologies to Peter Allen for corrupting* his wonderful song!
- commercials: paid ads that appear on radio, TV, outdoors, online and so on
- culture: the way of life, general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people
- Peter Allen: famous Australian singer-songwriter, musician and entertainer (1944-1992)
- stirring: emotional, causes a strong, positive response
- carrier: a person, company or thing that carries and delivers passengers or goods
- allegation: claim or assertion that someone has done something illegal or wrong
- brand: unique or defining identity setting a product or service apart from others like it
- campaign: planned activity for a period of time intended to achieve a particular aim
- patriotically: showing love and pride for your country
- devise: to make up or invent something, form a new plan or solution
- identifiable: known, recognisable,
- diminutive: very small, little, a person known to be petite in size
- punchline: last part of a joke or story that explains the point brings it all together
- lyrics: words in a song
- stage left: to the left of the actor or performer who is standing facing the audience
- melody: a tune, often as part of a larger piece of music
- corrupting: altering, changing, tampering with, here a joke about a good song turned bad
- Which Australian musician wrote the famous song I Still Call Australia Home?
- How many years was Alan Joyce Qantas CEO?
- What was the approximate value of government assistance that Qantas received through Covid?
- The Australian parliament is investigating operational restrictions imposed on which airline?
- What is the other name by which Qantas is known?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. What makes a commercial memorable?
What is a TV or online commercial that sticks in your memory? Describe the commercial and then write down the parts of the commercial that make it so memorable.
Time: allow 30 minutes for this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Media Arts, Music
Imagine that you are Alan Joyce. Rewrite the words of the song to show what you think about Mark’s cartoon.
Time: allow at least 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English
What happens next?
Imagine this story is part of an animated series made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell the complete story and this article is only Part 1. Think about what the rest of the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking