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My favourite ad of all time: Qatar Airways ‘Traveller’s Tale’ of 2009

Keen traveller Rubik Azariah offers an analysis of the Qatar Airways classic aviation ad of 2009, work that promotes the 'idea that every journey you take is somehow woven into a bigger tale'

It is a travel tale well told. I’m talking, of course, about the Qatar Airways television commercial from back in 2009. Whenever I think of travelling, I remember this commercial and wonder about the new chapters ahead.

You can almost taste the delights of travel when watching the work. And remember, this was back in 2009 before travel storytelling became the mature segment it is today.

Indeed, harking from a time before today’s pristine, picture perfect and Instagram worthy travel ads, this TVC still measures up. It instils a thirst for travel in the viewer, without trying too hard.

Through an evocative voiceover that takes the user on a journey in the mind’s eye, complemented with cinéma vérité-sytle visuals that provide glimpses of landmarks around the world, you are provided with just enough room to interpret the tale.

In fact, watching it you just feel the urge to pack your bags and write your own instalment with ‘The World’s 5-Star Airline’. This timeless commercial was a product of Batey Singapore and Bates Pan Gulf. And back in 2009, the year of this commercial’s release, Batey went on to become part of the Grey Global Group.

Perhaps one of the reasons that this particular spot appeals so much to me is the short and punchy, yet rhythmic, copy. It transports you on a journey like all great ads do. As the opening line says, the content truly is ‘filled with surprises’.

With me as a bug fan of travel, it strikes a personal chord. It promises you something that is unique with a view of the world that seems to have been captured through a moving cab. Indeed, the visuals are an interesting juxtaposition, using a vibrant yet subtle colour palette.

Subtlety is also reinforced by the fact that you never really see anything related to the product. You don’t see a pristine aircraft banking away into clouds. Or the ever helpful cabin crew making you feel at home. 

Actually, you don’t see the airline crew until the last frame logo lock-up. Yes this ad does subtly cover the different destinations that the airline is flying to, but in an artful manner that wants you to pick out those landmarks and make the necessary connections yourself. A Vespa in Rome perhaps, Wall Street or the Taj hotel in Mumbai anyone?  

The real clincher is the line: “It’s the story of the world, one with many endings.” This sells something more than just getting from A to B in luxury, it makes the viewer part of something bigger. The idea that every journey you take is somehow woven into a bigger tale. And that every journey has a different ending. It all comes together perfectly, a real triumph. 

Azariah, a big fan of travel

Rubik Azariah is a digital strategist and creative director, who has worked for Dentsu and BBDO in Singapore

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