Jessica Goodfellow
Jun 24, 2019

Qantas, Vegemite, and BHP prosper in parochial Australia

Locally-owned brands win favour of Australians as nation becomes more parochial

Qantas, Vegemite, and BHP prosper in parochial Australia


Globalisation is faltering, trade wars are breaking out, politics is becoming more polarised. Against this backdrop, Australians are placing greater value than ever on national brands, and those which build local culture into their communications.

“The world is becoming more parochial. As global power balances shift and political rhetoric becomes more fear-based, we tend to hold our national treasures even closer to our hearts,” explained PwC creative director Melinda Kerr.

Qantas, which tops the list of Australia’s top local brands in this year’s Asia’s Top 1000 Brands survey, is one such national treasure, according to Kerr.

“There is an enormous amount of warmth and trust associated with the 'flying kangaroo’,” she said.

Kerr said the brand’s decision to focus on emotionally-charged advertising campaigns has helped solidify its success.

“Qantas has realised that it's not about the planes, the prices or even the safety record; it's about connecting people. So in times when we are looking increasingly inwards — for certainty in an uncertain world — Qantas shines. I expect them to stay up the top for a long time to come,” she added.

AnalogFolk Sydney managing director Matt Robinson said that the brand has “gone from strength to strength” since 2015, when it had one of the biggest corporate turnarounds in Australian history.

“The Australian people are invested in the success of our national carrier, an enviable place to be,” Robinson said.

The airline has made a series of investments over the past few years to stand out from its competition. It has expanded into new business areas like health insurance, committed to new direct flights, made a commitment to sustainability with its ‘zero-waste flight’ initiative, and improved its overall brand experience — from its app to upgrading its fleet.

“Clearly, they’re being rewarded for their vision on this front,” said Nick Foley, Landor president for Southeast Asia Pacific and Japan.

Australia's top local brands 2019

  1. Qantas
  2. Vegemite
  3. Coles
  4. Woolworths
  5. Apple
  6. Telstra
  7. BHP
  8. Samsung
  9. Bunnings
  10. Arnotts

That feeling of national pride that Qantas elicits as a homegrown brand also explains why Vegemite bumped up the rankings from 5th to 2nd place this year.

After years of being owned by global giant Mondelez, in 2018 it was bought by Australian dairy company Bega Cheese, and subsequently developed a new brand positioning and campaign embracing its Aussie roots, called ‘Tastes like Australia’.

“The campaign is literally as Australian as you can get, owning all the stereotypes, cliches, cringe-worthy moments in our history as well as the magical ones,” Robinson said.

It was Vegemite’s first big national campaign in six years, and was followed by a string of partnerships that incorporated the spread into gin, chocolate and various other foodstuffs — all contributing to a spike in brand awareness.

“Reconnecting the brand to our collective heritage while at the same time partnering with other brands to create more modern consumption opportunities seems to be working wonders,” Robinson noted.

Another brand that profited from repositioning itself as fully Australian brand is BHP, which jumped seven spaces to 7th this year.

The world’s largest mining company officially dropped the ‘Billiton’ from its name at the end of 2018, which it acquired from its merger with Britain's Billiton PLC in 2001.

The move was part of a A$10 million rebranding campaign, called ‘Think Big’, that sought to emphasise its Australian roots.

“Dropping Billiton from its name makes it easier for the brand to cut through – and also states very clearly that it is back to being a truly Australian brand,” Foley said.

The campaign focuses on how BHP contributes to the economic success and prosperity of Australia, rather than concentrating on the company’s somewhat controversial trade.

“Think Big aims to step out of the grit and grime of mining,” said Robinson. In doing so, it manages to “stir up parochial pride in what an Aussie company has achieved,” he added.

The miner has since thrown weight behind an above-the-line campaign focusing on how its copper resources are contributing to clean energy, a “wise move by the brand’s custodians,” said Foley, that could see it rise even further in next year’s ranking.

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