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Andy Sandoz, creative director, Work Club

“Compare The Meerkat is an inspired, excellently written, thoroughly stupid idea that translates brilliantly from TV to digital”

I don’t know why I’ve been asked to write this. I’m the creative director of Wok Club, Europe’s premier supplier of integrated Asian cooking equipment. What I do know is that online and offline should share a single great idea but use it appropriately. Easy peasy Japanesey?

Compare The Meerkat is an inspired, excellently written, thoroughly stupid idea asking me to compare meerkats instead of car insurance providers. It translates brilliantly from TV to digital. I’ve been sent the website link three times and even our typically cynical digital-nerdlinger-design-director shouted, “It’s f**kin’ FULL-OF-WIN and AWESOME!” They really do talk like that.

Our hero, Aleksandr, currently has 30,000 Facebook friends, 1,000 Twitter followers, and a further dig tells me a predicted effect on quotes (insurance, not meerkats) of +40%.

Fun, engaging and effective stuff. However, for all its ‘WIN and AWESOME’, it’s as yet only on low heat. Concepts like Aleksandr rarely succeed in translating into something of meaningful, long-term value digitally, which is something the medium can excel at.

The challenge, now that everyone is listening, is what clever things can Comparethemarket.com do to deeply engage with, not simply broadcast at, this new audience. My tip: don’t let the meerkat totally dominate the conversation, but don’t shut him up either as he’s a great opener.

Pablo the drug-mule dog is funny, off-kilter, brilliantly written, voiced by David Peep Show Mitchell and, best of all, completely non-preachy while educating about the dangers of cocaine. However, this campaign has merely taken the great TV ad and stuck it within an actual TV on the site, all but ignoring the idea in favour of a too-familiar Darko basement. So while it does a good job of making me interact with the issue, it loses the most important thing: Pablo. I want to deal with Pablo. Previous digital work for Frank has been excellent so something got lost here — rights management, communication or something else.

Ford Ka’s Find It confuses the hell out of me, and not just because it’s a usability nightmare. The TV ad is stylish, cool by fashion association and tries to keep me interested with a spot-the-car game. I get that. However, online this turns into a children’s cartoon map featuring prominent ‘funky Find It wallpapers’. In fairness, there is content here, it just has nothing to do with anything else going on.

Heaven forbid, but here’s an idea that should have started online. Why not focus on fashion, do media deals with ecommerce arms of high street stores, or perhaps ASOS, and hide the car and the site there? Then bring that up to the TV spot, making the fashion relevant and easily attainable. It would have fitted well. Instead I’m driven to a completely different average experience and the site doesn’t want to talk about all the reasons why I bothered to turn up.

Lastly, Lynx is asking me to Unleash The Man Leather. That sounds fun. Unfortunately what they really want me to do is a primeval scream into my microphone and what the hell this gimmick has to do with unleashing myself in leather is beyond me.

Also, I can’t quite work out why the aesthetic is like it is — that is, cartoony. Am I missing something? Yeah, the girls are hot, but I’d rather make out with the meerkat.

Campaign of the Month: Compare the Meerkat

Steve Vranakis, creative director, VCCP

The challenge for Comparethemarket.com was to create a campaign that would increase the number of prospects searching for the site by name. To get onto the shortlist in this market, you have to be among the top three search results. The campaign and category-breaking approach features Aleksandr, the Russian meerkat who founded Comparethemeerkat.com. His TV ad is an appeal to people to stop visiting his site when looking for cheap car insurance as he only compares meerkats. If they want the best deals on car insurance they should go to comparethemarket.com.

We were able to gain huge search efficiencies. The search term ‘meerkat’ on Google was a fraction of the cost of buying ‘compare’ or ‘market’. The campaign is fully integrated, with Aleksandr having his own website, Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel.

Aleksandr has 36,724 fans on Facebook and 1,196 followers on Twitter, and the number of quotes on Comparethemarket.com is up by 90% on the same period last year.

Mark Vile, marketing director, Comparethemarket.com

Until this campaign, comparison-site advertising tended to bombard people with generic messages. Our thinking focused on the need to ensure that our brand became front of mind in a very competitive market.


Published 5 February, 2009 by NMA Staff

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