Campaign Review: I Still Call Australia Home vs Stop it at the Start

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites the industry’s creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. For this week's Campaign Review, Mumbrella asks Leo Burnett's Abigail Dubin-Rhodin and CHEP Network's Tim Smith to review the latest campaigns from the Department of Social Services and Qantas.

Brand: Department of Social Services

Campaign: Stop it at the Start

Agency: BMF

The verdict: A proactive and hopeful take on an important social issue

Abigail Dubin-Rhodin, strategy director at Leo Burnett, gives it 9/10, saying:

Growing up, my mom was a social worker in our hometown, and so conversations around domestic violence, problematic relationship behaviours, and the need for social support – both in the form of proactive conversations and importantly, funding – to mitigate these problems were commonplace in my house.

Were these uncomfortable conversations to have as a kid? Sure. Were they always approached with the level of kid-appropriateness and care this campaign seeks to bring to life? Probably not, it was the 90s. Were they important to have anyway? Definitely.

All to say, starting these conversations early is imperative. On to the work!

There are a few elements of this campaign that make it so effective – and valuable to have on air during primetime family TV time.

First, it provides an umbrella action for everyone to take and teach their children: Bring Up Respect. This provides direction and an outcome that arguably every parent aims to raise their kids to be – respectful humans who are prepared to engage in healthy relationships.

Second, we see age-appropriate ‘respect actions’ in situ and also how they result in positive growth to the next developmental stage. This might actually be the most important part of these ads – because having these on air is going to make people uncomfortable. Much like people got up in arms about Turning Red nodding to the fact that adolescents–gasp!–get periods, this will upset people who feel like this is too mature an issue to be directed at kids. But 1 in 6 girls will experience intimate partner violence by the time they are 15. FIFTEEN. By adulthood, conversations around respect are clearly already long overdue. They need to start literally at the start. And by showing that these conversations can feel natural, be received well by kids, and actually work to have noticeable, beneficial impacts are hugely important for parents to see.

And while seeing these conversations (and their effects) acted out on TV is useful, we all know these conversations are more difficult – and less predictable – in real life. Helpfully, the government’s site includes resources including both common excuses for why people behave disrespectfully (so you can prepare your children) and conversation guides for leading these talks and ensuring your kids feel safe in having them.

I give this campaign a 9/10. Campaigns on social issues are tricky and often choose to create impact through shocking images and scenes–and when it comes to intimate partner violence, there’s unfortunately plenty of material to work with there. They also tend to be reactive against current violent beliefs and behaviour – as were the first few phases of this campaign. By shifting the focus to how to proactively mitigate violent, disrespectful beliefs and behaviours, this campaign provides those tasked with raising the next generation a positive, more action-oriented paradigm through which to approach 1) how intimate partner violence manifests (and it starts way before someone hits their partner) and 2) how, at every stage of life, they can work together to help raise them to approach their relationships more positively and respectfully.

Tim Smith, creative director at CHEP Network, gives it 9/10, saying:

To me, this is a fantastic campaign. It’s something I’ve never seen before – a wonderfully positive coming-of-age story that shows the positive side of educating kids about violence against women. It almost seems like it shouldn’t be able to exist. But I’m glad it does.

It feels somewhat surreal to say I enjoyed an ad in this category, but the flip to a positive message from the usual yelling and screaming approach gives me hope that maybe these government campaigns can make people sit up and see things differently.

Alongside the seemingly rare feat of sticking with a platform for more than one execution, BMF has found a way to weave what I imagine was an absolute laundry list of behavioural examples into a charming and simple story. All the while handling a very difficult subject with the right balance of warmth, compassion and hope.

Brand: Qantas

Campaign: I Still Call Australia Home 

Agency: The Monkeys

The verdict: The same old Qantas, but is that a good thing?

Dubin-Rhodin gives it 8/10, saying:

Full disclosure: I did not grow up in Australia. My accent would’ve given that away, but alas, we’re in the written form, so it’s easier just to tell you. That said – NFL! Taylor Swift! Bernie Sanders! – see? I’m from the US, easy.

So this was an interesting one for me. I didn’t grow up with years of I still call Australia home on my airwaves or TV or Qantas as my national airline, but the power of this campaign is such that I didn’t need to grow up here for it to feel like it was for me too. And I totally recognize the benefit of being able to go into this experience fresh and that my opinion may differ from someone who has experienced 30 years of emotional Qantas work. But it’s just that – my opinion – so let’s get into it!

In a country as multicultural as Australia, it’s hugely important that even those who are new in town feel like it’s for us too. As of 2021, 29.8% of Australians were born overseas and another ~20% have at least one parent who was born overseas, meaning nearly half of the country is shaped by a combination of familial relationships and cultural experiences that bridge Australia and the world. To truly represent Australia and the feeling of home one gets here, it needed to be all-encompassing of the diversity of the lived Australian experience.

And it does that well – particularly when contrasted against the 1987 ad that it’s remaking. Whereas the 1987 ad never actually shows Australia – the Qantas planes are very much the stand-in for the country – and is very white, this campaign’s strength rests in its depiction of Australia’s diversity. I found the fact that the ad begins and ends with the land and the traditional custodians of it to be particularly potent. No story of Australia is complete without the full acknowledgement of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have called this land home for the last 60,000 years and Australia’s reliance on their knowledge for evolved national responses to issues from climate change to cancer treatment show us clearly that there is no sustainable future of the country without their leadership as well.

Further, and I know the wide sweeping landscape shots are a trope of tourism spots–don’t @ me–but I loved seeing the splendour of all of Australia. A lot of tourism ads begin and end with the big 3 of the Sydney harbour, the great barrier reef, and Uluru. All exceptional spaces in their own right, but 3 places can never represent the totality of a country as geographically diverse as Australia. Reminding Australians in Australia, as well as those arriving, that their journey doesn’t end at the city they land in and that people are living and calling Australia home everywhere from the southern tip of Tassie to the Top End is valuable from a practical perspective–fly more with Qantas, use our tourism partners – but also insofar as it’s really validating to see a bit of yourself, a bit of your home on the big screen as emblematic of your country.

I give this campaign a 8/10, it does the emotional gut punch that gets my tear ducts working overdrive (but so has every Qantas ad lately–why are you doing this to me?!) but also gives Australia and the world a true picture of what makes Australia so special: the diversity of its people, its land, and the important connection between the two. And for those that think this is about cheap nostalgia, remember I grew up thinking Outback Steakhouse was an accurate cultural representation of Australia. It works hard as a modernization of a much beloved 80s campaign, but it is just as effective on its own.

Smith gives it 7/10, saying:

It’s a huge challenge knowing what to say and when to say it in today’s climate. Perhaps no more so than for a brand stuck in the middle of ever-changing border rules and regulations like Qantas.

So, seeing a spot written and filmed in 2019 released well into 2022 is no real surprise.

Unfortunately, while it’s certainly a large and beautifully shot ad, something about the message and timing just seems a little bit … out of date, perhaps?

It could be the same old “Aussie” celebrities being rolled out (Troy Sivan aside), or maybe it’s the fact that the ad seems to talk to us as if we are all travelling the globe longing to come home – which, back in 2019 many of us were.

But today, while it’s true that people are still returning and traveling domestically in large numbers, the reality is a lot of us are chomping at the bit for the opportunity to travel to … well, pretty much anywhere else.

I should probably also mention that I’m a Kiwi, and despite being here over a decade, Qantas just isn’t in my DNA. Replace Hugh Jackman with Richie McCaw sitting on a chilly bin holding a packet of pineapple lumps in Queenstown as a teal koru flies overhead, and you’d probably have a 10/10.

If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email Kalila Welch at


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