Qantas flags digital focus after losing 40 per cent of broad marketing team in recent cuts

QantasQantas is understood to have lost 40 per cent of its broader marketing team in the recent savage round of job losses, with the carrier flagging a more concerted focus on digital marketing strategies going forward.

The cuts, which equate to around 40 positions, were part of a drastic series of measures announced earlier this year to reduce Qantas’s wage bill.  The airline cut 5,000 jobs, 1,500 of them from corporate positions.

It is the first time the extent of cuts to the broader marketing department, which includes corporate communications, sponsorship, events and community staff has become clear.

Olivia Wirth, Qantas Group executive manager for brand, marketing and corporate affairs, admitted the marketing department did not escape the cuts. “We were all part of it. It is a big transformation for the business but one that was needed,” she told Mumbrella.

The cuts meant the department, and others across the airline, had “to be smarter” and explore “how we get more value from what we are investing in”.

Wirth said Qantas would continue to explore a mix of marketing strategies but said digital would be a focus.



“We probably haven’t invested in digital as much as we should have so we are putting more focus on digital. It’s an important vehicle to drive sales and important to drive awareness and education of our routes and product. It’s becoming more prominent in our marketing mix.”

A newly-created digital and entertainment team will play a key role in the marketing strategy with content and social marketing also a focus.

“We have built that team so we can do quite a lot of our work inside the business as opposed to using agencies,” Wirth said.

But she stressed high profile brand marketing would remain in its plans.

“Our advertising focus has been predominantly on tactical and product, but we believe there is a time and place for brand advertising and we’ll continue to invest in that over the next 12 months,” she revealed.

Wirth said its sponsorship of sporting events and its partnership with The Voicewhich wrapped last night – has been successful in pushing the brand message.

“The Voice worked tremendously well. We were fully integrated into the show. It wasn’t just a case of whacking our logo on it, which doesn’t really cut it for us anymore. The Voice has been the pillar for us for the past three months.

Wirth continued: “It’s about getting the balance right between product marketing, retail marketing and brand marketing. It’s a very competitive market at the moment so there has been a greater focus on retail.”

Industry observers suggested any high profile brand messaging would have been wasted as Qantas battled the unions over job losses before becoming embroiled in a debate over its ownership structure.

Wirth’s comments came at the launch of QView, a new interactive digital content initiative unveiled at Sydney domestic airport this morning.

The airline has worked in collaboration with Ooh Media to introduce screens across its Qantas Club and business lounges at major domestic airports. In addition to news and weather on the screens, passengers can access QView through the lounge wifi on their own devices and access real-time boarding information.

The large screens in the lounges will display content which is trending at any particular time.

Wirth said: “We know our customers are turning to their mobile devices to access their latest news and sport content. By integrating this with personalised flight information, including up-to-the-minute boarding times, walking times to their boarding gate and weather at the destination, our customers will be able to find the information they need in one place.”

News feeds on QView are provided by AAP. Other content is expected to be added as the initiative beds down while it is likely to be extended to international terminals over times.

Advertising will feature but will be limited to 25 per cent of the content.

Meanwhile TV networks are still pitching for Qantas’ in-flight entertainment advertising contract.

But Wirth denied market speculation that Qantas was reviewing its creative and media accounts, currently held by Droga5 and ZenithOptimedia, although she acknowledged the media landscape “is changing quite a bit”.

Wirth added that the airline collaborates with numerous agencies, highlighting that Big Red worked on The Voice.

Steve Jones


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