Claire Beale on Advertising: Worried insurers compare meerkat market

 

Aleksandr Orlov has 536,542 fans on Facebook; probably more by the time you read this. At least 24,000 Tweeters are following him on Twitter. He has had more than 50 proposals of marriage and nearly 1,000 people have signed his petition to get the word "seemples" (simple) into the Oxford English Dictionary.

In eight short months, the British public has adopted the dapper Russian meerkat Aleksandr and his beautifully ridiculous "comperthemeerkat" website. Even better: this wave of affection has transformed the fortunes of the price-comparison website comparethemarket.com which is, after all, paying for the whole caboodle.

So it is no surprise that Aleksandr has sent shockwaves through the price comparison website market. There is now a mad scramble among rivals to rethink their marketing strategies. Gocompare.com has just launched a new television advertising campaign to rebuild its profile. Learning from Aleksandr, it too has tried to create a standout frontman for its brand and its new campaign stars the opera-singing "Gio Compario". Hmmm.

Meanwhile, Confused.com has called a review of its advertising and Moneysupermarket.com has decided to ditch its execrable ads starring Peter Jones from Dragon's Den. It too is holding a pitch to find a new creative solution.

All of this is welcome news for television viewers. The price comparison sites spend millions of pounds buying bucket loads of airtime and then filling it with some of the blandest, hammiest ads on the box. Now that Alexsandr has them all held to ransom, panic is setting in. Appealing to our penny-pinching instincts with cheap and nasty advertising is no longer good enough. There might be a recession on but we are not buying advertising tat any more. Alexsandr has shown the price-comparison market can appeal to our purses with élan.

But, fair's fair, before Alexsandr it did seem like this was one product category that it was simply impossible to do good creative work for. Car insurance aggregator websites: hardly the sort of creative brief that gets an agency slavering. All the brands have similar names, similar propositions and market share has largely been determined by how much money each brand spent on advertising.

So how could Comparethemarket break through the clutter? It was the smallest of the big four sites, was one of the last into the market, with a name and a proposition that gave it no real point of difference. VCCP knew it would need to create some advertising magic. The success of Admiral and the Churchill nodding dog proved that insurance market advertising thrived on strong brand icons. But the price-comparison websites seemed to have been so convinced that their revolutionary offerings would dazzle consumers they hadn't bothered to invest in real brand personalities.

Then there was the Google issue. Understanding how consumers search for these aggregator sites on Google was key. Buying a generic search term such as "car insurance" or "compare" is the most expensive way of getting your brand to the top of the Google listings; the cost-per-click on a search term like "market" can be as high as £5. So VCCP knew it had to find a cheaper search term people could use; that's where the leap was made from "market" to "meerkat". Yes, at first it seemed a little bit clumsy and crude, but it's all in the execution. Thanks to the gentle wit of the sharp scripts and a spectacular social media campaign, Alexsandr has quickly become entertaining, loveable and quite believable. Comparethemarket now has better awareness than its rivals, insurance quote volumes are up by 80 per cent and the cost of driving a consumer to the site has fallen by over 70 per cent.

Naturally, Alexsandr's rivals are flapping around trying to find new advertising solutions to counter the meerkat phenomenon but they'll have to come up with something pretty special to displace a mongoose in the silk smoking jacket from British hearts.
 

Best in Show

Volkswagen(DDB)

*DDB and Volkswagen have worked together for 40 years. It is a unique relationship, not just for its longevity but also its consistency. No surprise then that the new ad for the VW Golf is another triumph. The idea is beautifully simple. Lots of cars are said to be "like a Golf" but there is nothing like the real thing.

From a woman hiring a car to a pack of lads examining an engine, it is clear other hatchbacks just don't match up. It's a clear, simple insight lovingly translated into a great TV ad.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web Designer / Digital Designer

£25 - 40k (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Web Desig...

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments