Don’t ‘dabble’ in branded content without a defined purpose says Qantas’ Gemma Matthews

L:R Duggan, Tully, Ackland, Matthews

L:R Duggan, Tully, Ackland, Matthews

Qantas Airways entertainment manager Gemma Matthews has said brands should not “dabble” in branded content if they do not have a defined and clear purpose of what they want to achieve.

Speaking at last week’s Mumbrella360 conference on the airline’s native advertising experiment AWOL, a partnership with youth publisher Sound Alliance, Matthews said: “I don’t think you should do it if you don’t have a real reason for doing it – there’s no point to dabbling.”

“We had a defined, clear purpose we went to Sound Alliance with, we knew that was the right demographic for this type of content.”

Matthews said if Qantas had been targeting an “older audience, or a more conservative business traveller who’s not addicted to their mobile device” it would have looked at other avenues of engaging with customers.

The airline partnered with Sound Alliance at the end of last year to launch ‘mobile first’ youth travel site AWOL which is aimed at inspiring 18 to 35 year old to travel the world.

AWOL screen shot - LA

“The content – you have to be what people are interested in,” Matthews said.

“We are really lucky, we’re in a space these people are interested in. If you’ve got the perfect kind of situation you should go for it and be brave and take a little bit of a risk like we did.”

“We weren’t going to pretend we could have done this ourselves. I don’t think our marketing team was equipped to play in this field authentically. Partnering with somebody was really smart for us.



When quizzed on how they approach the commercial objectives to the AWOL styled content Qantas executive manager of group brand and marketing marketing Stephanie Tully said their expectations are for a commercial return.

“When we’re doing a native piece for ourselves we are absolutely expecting their to be a commercial return. Those commercial objectives either leading to airline revenue or airline revenue are top of mind for us,” she said.

“We want to do it an authentic way but we wouldn’t be doing it just for the ad revenue.”

When asked on how the Qantas marketing team got CEO Alan Joyce over the line with the AWOL pitch Tully quipped: “one meeting, done”.

“He’s very open-minded with how we engage with our customers. It wasn’t as hard as you think. Ultimately because we could prove we could make money from it from the engagement and life-time value from our customer.

“There’s a real open-mindedness with engaging with that next-generation of future flyers. You have to have a long term view because from a loyalty business members are most profitable once they have a credit card and that’s usually 25 plus,” said Tully.

“From a flying point of view, our core frequent flyer business age is generally between 30 and 50, you have to have that long term view by getting people emotionally connected with Qantas at an early age that will pay off in the long run.”

Miranda Ward


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