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.
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.
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!