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Will Droga5 fly with global Qantas win?

Finally Australian airline Qantas has made its mind up about something. After a marathon 10-month global ad review waylaid by catastrophic industrial action and a last-minute organisational upheaval, the airline’s got a creative winner.

And it is: much-garlanded indie agency Droga5.

Droga5 managed to beat off competition from Publicis Mojo on the last section of the track. But Publicis hasn’t walked away entirely empty-handed, retaining media through ZenithOptimedia and certain digital duties through Amnesia Razorfish (what a name!). Even Publicis Mojo seems to have retained some shadowy ‘strategic’ role.

It would appear that Droga5 will lead the account out of its Australia office, but also involve the agency’s senior team, including David Droga, in New York.

For 17 years, the airline’s creative account was handled by M&C Saatchi, which is thought to have been interested in repitching but dropped out after bagging the Etihad Airways global account.

Droga5, which was second on Ad Age’s annual Agency A-List this year, has had airline experience before. It resigned the Virgin Australia business not very long ago.

It will certainly need to muster all the experience it can in rebuilding Qantas’s shattered image. Having grounded its fleet once because the Rolls Royce engines started dropping off, Qantas then had to ground it again because of paralysing industrial action. It seems Qantas’ perfectly intelligible decision to shift the focus of its operations to (less expensive) Asia didn’t go down terribly well in Oz, once the redundancy programme began to make itself felt. Qantas didn’t improve matters by declaring a communications war on its own staff in the Australian press.

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Let’s see how Droga5 handles this venerable Australian institution. Just one plea: no more choirs, boys and girls, please. We’ve done choirs.

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