Aleksandr technique

BIA09 Marketing Initiative of the Year winner BGL comparethemarket

With a unique and now ubiquitous multi-channel advertising campaign that has entered the public consciousness, comparethemarket.com has achieved great things with a comparatively small budget, writes Michelle Worvell.

Aggregator sites have made a huge impact on the insurance market since they first hit the scene. Yet, in a busy marketplace, it could be easy for individual firms to become lost in the crowd. However, you would have had to have been living in Siberia for a year not to have noticed the comparethemarket.com meerkat campaign. Whether you love or loathe it, no-one can deny that it has been a huge success.

Comparethemarket.com was originally launched in 2006 as a price-comparison site. After a rebrand in 2007, it quickly established itself as one of the UK's top-five comparison sites.

Market assessment

Ambitious growth targets made it clear to the firm that it needed to 'up its game' further still to achieve its objectives. With competitors implementing multi-million pound advertising budgets, it also needed to find an approach that delivered the same high impact with a significantly lower spend.

The company set itself a number of objectives. It felt that the campaign needed to be able to improve marketing effectiveness, stand out against the competition, drive spontaneous brand recall, differentiate comparethemarket.com from its competitors and, finally, fully integrate creative and media approaches across a number of channels.

To do this, comparethemarket.com worked closely with its creative agency to devise an advertising campaign that was unique in its sector, as well as memorable and engaging.

The result was a uniquely clever and innovative idea and led to the creation of Aleksandr Orlov, an aristocratic Russian meerkat and founder of comparethemeerkat.com. The television campaign centred on his frustration that people keep coming to his site looking for cheap car insurance and not meerkats. While the emphasis was on humour, the advert also communicated key messages on the 'easy way to save money on car insurance' via comparethemarket.com.

The team used market insight to inform the choice of television and radio channels that were to form the platform for the campaign, with a strong emphasis on integrating activity with online media and social networking sites.

The judges were impressed by the company showing an incredible amount of commitment to what became an all-encompassing campaign.

To maximise the online opportunities of the campaign, the marketing team created a complete meerkat website, www.comparethemeerkat.com, offering consumers the opportunity to compare meerkats from around the world as well as view the advertisements online. A fan-site was also created on Facebook. The television advert was uploaded to YouTube and Aleksandr himself began a Twitter feed, updating followers on his latest activities.

The campaign launched this January, with a second advertisement focusing on the 'comparethemeerkat' advertising jingle, which was launched a month later. No one can deny that the advertising campaign has had an unprecedented response:consumers send congratulatory e-mails, proposals and photographs on a daily basis, while requests for 'meerkat' merchandise are running into the thousands.

Facebook fans

Aleksandr now has more than 300 000 fans on Facebook and almost 10 000 followers on Twitter. The advertising also quickly entered popular culture, with 'Ant and Dec' using the catchphrase 'Simples!' on their Saturday night television show.

Most importantly, the number of direct visitors to the site has doubled year-on-year, proving to the judges that additional visitors did make use of comparethemarket.com's services.

The campaign is still going strong and shows no sign of abating" the astounding amount of commitment, innovation, creativity and thought that went into this memorable campaign meant that there could only have been one clear winner in this category.

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