Jan 25, 2017

Qantas draws the wrong lion (but it’s OK) in relaunching Beijing flights

Good story, great photo, but pity about the detail

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Alan Joyce (left) and a southern Chinese Lion

Qantas group CEO Alan Joyce wasted no time alluding to the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP controversy when he launched the relaunching of its Sydney-Beijing non-stop flights today, but there was a slight cultural glitch.

The photo used in the Qantas media release, and first issued last October, features the wrong Chinese Lion for the purposes of a daily A332 service to the north of China.

Mr Joyce is posed beside a Southern Chinese Lion, not a Northern Chinese Lion. They are different, as an authoritative but perforce anonymous China scholar and watcher pointed out in the comments to this post in Plane Talking when the relaunch was first announced last October 13.

I found Qantas press release today quite amusing: the photo accompany with the release with Alan Joyce with a Chinese Lion. However, that Lion is a Chinese Southern Lion type, not the Chinese Northern Lion I would expect if Qantas is trying to promote flights to Beijing. I hope Qantas do realise there are cultural differences between Northern and Southern China.

The Southern Chinese Lion has a single horn and a mirror on its head. The differences are defined and explained in more detail in this paper.

However, more to the ‘allusion’ to the whole free trade thing, which is more than horny in its own right, given that Australia’s enthusiasm for the TPP was based on pressure from the Obama administration to do deals that isolated or contained Beijing.  As well as screwing assorted Australian consumers when it came to matters involving copyright and patents and the bestowing of supra-national privileges on trans border US controlled enterprises.

Mr Joyce said:

“It’s the perfect time for Qantas to fly to Beijing. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is hitting its stride and China is on track to become the number one source of visitors to Australia within the next year or so,” said Mr Joyce.

“What’s really exciting is the potential we see for the future.  We now have the Qantas Group’s biggest ever network in Greater China, and our goal is to make our Beijing route a flagship corridor for tourism and trade.

“For Chinese travellers, our message is that there’s no better way of getting to know Australia than with the national carrier.  In the business market, this route gives our companies the ability to win new business and get their products and services into the market. And it’s a positive for the Australian travel industry.  So whichever way you look at it, this is a good news story.”

The full release from Qantas today can be read here, alongside the fetching photo of the wrong Chinese lion.

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4 thoughts on “Qantas draws the wrong lion (but it’s OK) in relaunching Beijing flights

  1. TomTom

    When American Airlines inaugurated service to Brazil, all of their print, radio and billboard advertising was in Spanish. That’s a lot worse that wrong foo-foo lion. Are you sure that’s not a dragon in the picture, anyway?

    1. Ben Sandilands

      I had no idea about Chinese lions or dragons until a high level China watcher and subscriber alerted me last October. And as the link to the paper on China’s culture makes clear, it’s a lion, and one me and the farm’s working cats would like to keep on side.

  2. Crocodile Chuck

    Thanks for thoughtfully articulating the identities of each of the animal denizens in the picture, Ben. 😉

    Where’s that damn Oliva Wirth?

  3. nobeljnet

    Last time I checked the so-called marketing mix of old (4Ps), got people, process and experience added to it a while back.
    Or how services industries especially bring together product/ behaviour/ environment to address needs, but sell to wants.
    I have also read that there is no such thing as bad publicity, and I guess the re-opening of a Beijing service by Qantas Group, as opposed to news being something someone doesn’t want out there.
    Not that I ever understood the children’s choir in Qantas Group marketing communications either (other than the ABC Chasers talking of 51% locally owned during the whole APA thing), if references to second oldest, compared to say ‘Singapore Girl’, Air New Zealand’s authenticity, or airlines along the silk road advertising a combo of very new planes, and eclectic team members.
    Or Virgin’s Branson’s stunts.
    But grounder Joyce next to a wrong make believe animal, taken before the end of year debacle with passengers getting stuck en-route, but the Qantas Group CEO not, oops?
    There used to be a time, when there were (private jets and) full-service airlines, besides charter flights … it was clear what Qantas stood for then, prior to CEOs like Joyce or Dixon.
    Now when on a walk along Canada Bay, I see plenty and quiet non Qantas stuff (remaining 747s seem to be from smaller islands, or cargo ones), especially North, West or South East Asian.
    Though essentially Qantas Group is now mainly relevant this side of hubs in West Asia and America’s West/ South Coast.
    And now it’s a world of alliances and code shares, even build it and they will comes, long haul LCCs, and Star Alliance comes across clearer than middle of the road OneWorld (the American Airlines example of Spanish for Brazil …, let alone Bloody Awful), though to be fair I’ve had lotsa SkyTeam (recently KLM, the oldest, got mentioned as most reliable) exposure.
    Essentially in terms of experience Singapore beats Qantas, not that I am not appreciative of renewal like A330s/ A380s/ 737s, just like Air Asia X A330s seems to beat Jetstar, whose 787s/ A320s I am not keen to try.
    Besides, if I book for work it is schedule and cost (and subject to travel policies, then again Qantas Domestic may have the bigger and more often network, Virgin just seems to try harder), if I book for leisure it is experience and cost.
    Qantas Group just doesn’t seem to be either full service or low cost, strategically confused, for one not even on Australia Day do I care much for British Commonwealth of Nations ties?
    Kinda reminds me of European/ Japanese vs Government Motors (Holden), Chrysler, Ford …

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