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Marketing Strategy: Comparethemeerkat.com

May 14, 2009

Alexander Mikhailovich Orlov was a Soviet espionage administrator, who defected to the U.S. in 1938, warned Leon Trotsky of his impending assassination (read more here). Nevertheless, for the last four months “Aleksandr Orlov” the meerkat with a Russian accent broadcasts on TV in order to reassure people that they should not get confused between the two pages; comparethemarket.com and comparethemeerkat.com. He explains that lately many people have been misspelling the words when looking for price-comparison site Compare The Market in search engines and landing on his page Compare The Meerkat when trying to find a cheap car insurance. If you have not seen the TV ad yet, please see it yourself:

I remember seeing that clip for the first time and wondering a little about its sense. However, despite some doubts the ad caught my attention as well as the attention of many others. Being curious I went to investigate a bit to find out more myself. Compare The Market is a price-comparison website, which aims to provide its customers with the most beneficial and cheapest quotes from various major organisations offering car, travel or home insurances; credit cards; mortgages; loans etc. Some examples of such organisations include The AA, HSBC, Nationwide and the Post Office. Compare The Meerkat is a site founded by the Russian meerkat entrepreneur Alexandr, who claims to be a member of the Russian aristocracy and lives in Moscow. His site provides information about various meerkats, their origins, hobbies and favourite activities. A month later another clip appears, where he claims that there is a big difference between his page, comparethemeerkat.com and the price-comparison site comparethemarket.com, by playing both jingles that sound pretty much identical.

Aleksandr Orlov's Twitter Page

Aleksandr Orlov's Twitter Page

After getting lots of positive response and people liking these adverts, Aleksander did not rest on his laurels. He created an account on social networking site Twitter gaining great response within only a few days and currently has 14,935 followers (see his page here). Hence, Aleksandr took advantage craftily of the numerous branding and social networking opportunities delivered by Twitter.

Matching his character his account provides funny and light-hearted content, which is also adding value through a personal touch to the brand itself as well as and additional level of online customer support. According to Revolutionmagazine Aleksandr even encouraged his Twitter followers to leave statements on how they like the business in order to create a testimonial area on Comparethemeerkat.com with their comments and photographs (read full story here).

Aleksandr also has created a Facebook page (here you can see his profile) with stunning 409,565 “fans” where he similarly to Twitter discusses funny stories and jokes with people who have signed up for him.

Aleksandr Orlov on Facebook

Aleksandr Orlov on Facebook

Both, Twitter and Facebook show high potential for customer interaction and also very high response rate from people involved. In marketing terms that can be seen as brand management and reputation building from a funny and relaxed perspective: people start to like Aleksandr and part of their affection will be transformed to Compare The Market eventually. Moreover, there is also a profile on YouTube (see here) where people have signed up as followers and leave comments on the videos. It seems that people are highly enthusiastic in communicating with Aleksandr. On all pages high interaction between customers and “Aleksandr” is apparent, which represents an essential element for successful social networking.

With reference to George Everett, the creator of the campaign states in Marketing Magazine:

“Facebook and Twitter are fantastic media for us as they allow us to build a conversation with consumers,’ he says. ‘People only insure their cars once a year but we will be at the front of mind.”

Only recently a new character has been introduced “Sergej” the one who is responsible for IT and seems to be an important part within Aleksandr’s company – and also gives the brand another mascot. His appearance gains greater importance and he has even received a role in the newest clip, that came out two weeks ago:

Compare The Market have created a spoof on their own name and perfectly combined online with offline efforts within their marketing concept by combining above-the-line advertisement such as print, TV and radio with below-the-line advertisement such as social networks and web pages. This shows that new media are even stronger if combined with traditional methods, if applied effectively so that one can boost the other in the most efficient way.

With reference to Marketingmagazine the responsible agency VCCP had the clear brief to boost the brand name “Compare The Market” in order to generate brand awareness and to stand out in a very crowded market. Hence, return on investment has been achieved clearly as brand recall is ensured massively – I am sure that people will definitely remember the brand, as VCCP have done a great job.

In SEO terms, which is the concept of optimising the ability of others to find your brand’s online appearance best possible when using a web search engine such as Google or Yahoo, Compare The Market have also succeeded. Having an account on the most popular social networks boosts a brand in extremely high positions on web search engines. By building brand awareness via social media, this also allows them to have a direct influence towards increasing online traffic and finally their sales.

This entire campaign is a brilliant piece achieving a viral effect that does not seem to stop spreading. Definitely an outbreak in promotion by combining online and offline efforts. It shows how successful a clear marketing strategy can be, when created properly by applying currently popular tools. They took advantage of the popularity of social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in order to build a platform for interaction with their “fans”. I am sure some people may argue whether having lots of followers supports their business, but once more I believe that awareness creation, which is achieved perfectly in this case, has a long-lasting effect that will stay in mind. And if you ever should require cheap car insurance… I am sure you will remember Aleksandr and give their page a go – if this is not successful marketing, then please tell me why!

And because its so nice…here some more of Aleksandr!

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13 comments

  1. I like the advert primarily for the character. He’s funny! He initially grabs your attention, to which is also taken to the meercat website through curiosity. Did it kill the Meerkat?


  2. Very interesting post, thanks for sharing what you have found out! I think it is a very clever campaign. In terms of customer interaction I would rate them 10 out of 10. The campaign is fresh, funny, innovative and full of surprises. It seems like they created a new celebrity with their mascot “Aleksandr” – a new way of celebrity endorsement? 🙂


  3. Well researched and interesting content. I’ve heard about that campaign but never really looked it behind it in so much detail.
    I agree with you and think that they have created a masterpiece when combining online and offline efforts. I love the comparethemeerkat.com site it is so funny and delivers a variety of elements (downloads) to spread the campaign more and more. Moreover, the amount of attention to detail they have invested is exemplary. I am wondering whether this campaign will win an award…?


  4. It certainly looks like successful marketing to me! If Meerkats were less attractive perhaps it wouldn’t have spread so quickly. I guess most animals have their fans, but it’s difficult to imagine a large spider featuring in this sort of thing!

    Aleksandr’s idiosyncratic English reminds me of Paul Enfield’s character Stavros the kebab seller in the 1980s BBC comedies Friday and Saturday Live. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yICyNLWAmvk&feature This obviously appeals to the humour of English speakers … I wonder if it’s true of other languages.

    A recent edition of BBC Radio4’s programme “More or Less” http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00k4kkj/More_or_Less_08_05_2009/ demonstrates that when people are faced with a choice, but don’t have enough facts for a rational choice, they opt for what they’ve heard of … on that basis people who’ve watched Compare The Meerkat are likely to pick Compare the Market ahead of the alternatives.


  5. I have to say i think this was a great advert for me purely on a comedy front but it gets the message across. I had not realised that there is facebook site and twitter thing but clearly they have managed to suck all these people in. Its a great bit of marketing.

    All i can say is what do all these twitter and facebook followers do with their lifes. Are there not better things to do with your time than follow a meerkat from an advert. Stop getting sucked into new media marketing and get outside, its summer!


  6. Ha, that was very interesting! I have never heard form that campaign before, but I like their concept very much. It’s great to see how much interactivity firms can achieve by the use of new media tools. Moreover, it all seems to happen so easily, quickly and on a low budget…to me that’s a great example that shows: good ideas are one thing, a complete marketing strategy another – both applied together lead towards success!


  7. I agree with you all and really like this campaign. And I am convinced that once a brand is anchored in ones mind, especially with such a funny and positive touch, people will be definitely more likely to remember it when facing a situation where comparethemarket.com will be required. Brilliant is also the aspect that you’ll remember “comparethemarket DOT COM” and not just compare the market, which emphasises that it is an online service.


  8. i’m really wondering how aleksandr came into the campaign makers mind… 😉 after watching the spot i directly had a look on http://www.comparethemeerkat.com. 🙂 it made me laugh a lot. so i think, they hit their target.
    well done joy!!


  9. I’m really pleased that you have covered this particular marketing campaign in your blog Joy as i think it is genius!

    This marketing campaign has been cleverly created to take the dullness out of shopping around for car insurance. Consumers have created an affinity with Aleksandr and so hit the website to see more of this hilariously funny character. If you compare his character and the content of the ads with that of say the Churchill Dog and advertsing campaign you can see why people buy into Aleksandr more.

    The website is backed up by the social networking sites twitter and facebook. People visiting the site are therefore encouraged to visit these social network sites and there you have it data collection and an ongoing viral marketing campaign that is kept alive by fans of the meerkat known as Aleksandr. No wonder his favourite line is simples!!!


  10. Bizarre, I’ve had two separate conversations about “compare the meerkat” this week. I guess that demonstrates a successful campaign.

    I really like the anti-advertising involved – there is limited mention of what is actually being advertised, whilst making their brand familiar through the meerkat/market wordplay (unlike so many pretentious, expensive looking adverts which can be entertaining but the actual product/brand is forgettable in comparison to the advert).

    The ad writers probably shouldn’t get any comic genius awards yet but the ads are so funny compared to the formulaic rubbish most of their competitors churn out (the nodding dog is trying, but just isn’t funny). The meerkat in the famous on hind legs pose swapped for a £ sign always makes me chuckle.

    Can’t help but think the facebook/twitter developments are a consequence of a successful ad campaign rather than part of an original masterplan, but I guess they are exploiting that opportunity to increase brand awareness by having a good quality online presence (I’ve seen comparethemeerkat, but not facebook/twitter). Aleksandr will probably become boring (remember the damn monkey?) and the facebookers and twitterees have probably signed on for gimmicks sake. But, I reckon the true value of a great campaign is the immediate positive brand awareness created.

    PS – Also, everyone loves meerkats. I can recommend “meerkat manor” as great hangover TV, it takes away some of the pain.


  11. It’s a very clever campaign as it manages to create a memorable and sympathetic character who pushes the website while appearing not to. I wasn’t aware of the Facebook, etc. feeds…but I was reminded of Monkey and Johnny Vegas ads created for the launch of ITV Digital. Unfortunately, in that case the ads were far more memorable than the product! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_(advertising_character)


  12. There’s an old, well-known saying in the ad biz that goes something like this, “Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.” In other words, if good — as in creative, engaging, distinctive — advertising motivates a bunch of people to try your product and that product doesn’t deliver, then the news travels fast. Because good advertising often gets talked about, and it gets talked about even more if the product it promotes sucks.

    Thankfully, in this case, there was consistent quality with both the advert and the product!

    ps: Aleksandr now has 423,813 fans on Facebook!


  13. […] Negative – Social Media Soap Box Positive – Joy Fleur […]



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