When it comes to good advertising, it is a little hard to overcome the standard set high by the well-known insurance price comparison online platform, Compare the Market. Founded in early 2006, the website became the third-largest price comparison website in the UK, after it launched the Compare the Meerkat campaign, featuring a series of meerkat characters.
This week’s #ThrowBrandThursday, tells the intriguing story of a fictional Russian meerkat family comprising of Aleksandr Orlov, Sergei and baby Oleg. Understandably, the campaign focuses on the real star of Compare the Meerkat, Orlov, who is set to explain the confusion Internet users make between comparethemarket.com and comparethemeerkat.com, due to the striking resemblence of the words “market” and “meerkat”.
Created by advertising agency VCCP and production company Passion Pictures, the advertising campaign was launched on 5th January 2009 and tells the story of this unique family: Aleksandr Orlov as a Russian oligarch, Sergei – his sidekick, tea-maker and IT technician who managed to design the Meerkat Space Station, and baby Oleg – who was introduced in 2013 after he was found on Aleksandr’s doorstep. One year later, after Oleg’s appearance in their lives, the Russian family decides to go on a trip to Africa, in December 2014, where the baby meerkat decides to stay.
The founder of Compare the Meerkat, Aleksandr Orlov, is not only famous for being a billionaire, but because of his website. According to an interview with Darren Walsh, the character’s director and designer, Orlov became rich in the 1970s, lives in Moscow and spends his money on different projects such as self-portraits, petitions, film productions etc.
However, although 70% of the company’s growth is due to the lovely commercials in the UK, the most interesting thing of this advertising campaign is that the Twitter account of Orlov – which is UK’s first Twitter account for an advertising character — doesn’t tweet special offers, nor links to the insurance website. In his tweets, Orlov doesn’t mention the company’s name, which makes this quite an impressive advertising campaign. A character, or series, that has been going for so long and only needs to promote itself – while succeeding to bring traffic to the comparethemarket.com site.
— Aleksandr Orlov (@Aleksandr_Orlov) December 14, 2016
Aleksandr became famous really fast, mainly because of the TV commercials where he explains in broken English that his site compares meerkats, not markets, advising users to go and check if they have the correct URL. Also, his well-known catchphrase “simples” managed to enter the MacMillan English Dictionary. Moreover, the campaign is available on the Australian market too and was launched on February 1st 2013, following a TV spot.
The company’s success doesn’t stop there: in April 2015, Compare the Market launched Meerkat Movies, offering 2 for 1 cinema tickets for anyone who buys any qualifying product via the company’s price comparison website. And to celebrate this, the Meerkats invited actor Macaulay Culkin to complete the family dynamic and to spend quality time in a fun park or at movies.
Although the VCCP’s goodbye campaign broke the hearts of many viewers two years ago, Oleg returned back on 22 December 2016, thanks to a partnership of the ad-agency with Disney’s Frozen. The video promoted limited-edition toys and introduced the baby meerkat dressed as Olaf, and Ayana, his best friend whom he met in Africa, dressed up as Elsa, playing with snow.
And here’s Sergei’s ogligatory blooper-reel: