Australian Media and the Politics of Belonging

David Nolan, Karen Farquharson, Timothy Marjoribanks

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


In late 2015, Qantas released the second of its ‘Feels Like Home’ television advertising campaigns. This series of advertisements, aired extensively on Australian commercial television during its coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games, focused on a series of stories of members of a real- life family, the Shelpers, travelling to spend Christmas with their parents on the NSW coast. In the ads, each family member travels from a different location – one daughter from what is recognizably the Australian outback, another from Brisbane, a third from country Victoria and the youngest son orchestrates a surprise visit from New York, from where he is shown travelling home on business class. Each story, featuring a family member travelling to their parents’ home with Qantas, is accompanied by the Randy Newman song ‘Feels Like Home’ covered by young Australian singer Martha Marlow. The culmination of each advertisement shows the emotional scene of the whole family reunited for Christmas dinner, accompanied by the climax of the song's chorus in its final line:

Feels like home, feels like home to me

Feels like I'm all the way back – where I belong.

This text replays what is a familiar and nostalgic scene for many Australians who travel home to share time with their families, and this sense of nostalgic familiarity is linked in each of the advertisements of Australian locations that are drawn together through its national family narrative. During the Olympics, this familiarity was interlinked with a sense of national pride evoked by the warm feelings the ads evoke, their linkage with an airline that is a national icon in its own right and the evocation of sporting patriotism. In this way, the ads directly appealed to and constructed a sense of national belonging – an image, or set of images, of homeliness constructed through synecdoche and personification, via which an individual family – the Shelpers – are signified as a national family. To understand this as a semiotic process, we must not only pay attention to what these advertisements depict, or what is presented, but also the relationship between what is present and what is absent in them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralian media and the politics of belonging
EditorsD Nolan, K Farquharson, T Marjoribanks
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherAnthem Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781783087808
ISBN (Print)9781783087785
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


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