Business Diary: GoCompare outfoxes rival's Meerkats

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The Independent Online

Using Google cleverly to get your ads noticed has become a new art-form. This week's prize for the cleverest, or cheekiest, wheeze goes to the price comparison website, which has nicked the slogan of rival The latter has become famous for inflicting Alexander the irritable Russian Meerkat on the world in what has become an iconic ad campaign. But type "compare the meerkat" into Google and the top two sponsored links take you through to GoCompare's website underneath the header "Comparing Meerkats". That's something that should get Alexander really cross.

Those Meerkats are grouchy old tabbies

Perhaps we shouldn't be that surprised – ComparetheMarket doesn't seem to be that fleet of foot. While it has a set up a meerkat Facebook group and offers various downloads, there's no merchandise. A few entrepreneurial souls have cheekily used Alexander to sell mugs and T-shirts on eBay, but there's nothing official – and a quick call to ComparetheMarket's PR person produced the sort of medium polite "get knotted" that Alexander might think twice about.

Aviva's Argyle ads leave out the Canaries

Talking of ads, Aviva's latest, featuring Paul Whitehouse playing a Plymouth Argyle fan bemoaning the cost of driving to away fixtures, is hard to miss. But why Plymouth and not the Aviva-sponsored Norwich, from which away fixtures are also something of a trek? "Plymouth Argyle fans pretty much have to travel the furthest to get to away matches," says an Aviva spokeswoman. "That doesn't detract from our sponsorship." So nothing to do with the fact that Whitehouse portrays members of the "green army" as intellectually challenged country boys, something they're not at all sensitive about in Norwich.

Female shoppers put off by sexy staff

Young female shoppers are put off by attractive shop staff, say researchers at the University of South Australia. Abercrombie & Fitch may want to take note, given that it was found to have wrongfully dismissed a woman shunted to work in the stock room because a prosthetic arm meant she did not fit its "look policy".