How a meerkat became a social media hero, creating a cult brand Amelia Torode Admap September 2009, Issue 508
How a meerkat became a social media hero, creating a cult brand Amelia Torode
There's a new cult advertising hero in town, breaking hearts and smashing business targets. His name is Aleksandr Orlov and he is an entrepreneur from Moscow. In his mid-40s, about two-and-a-half feet tall, he is highly opinionated and very furry. That's because he is a meerkat or, to be precise, a 'business-meerkat' the founder of
CompareTheMeerkat.com, the world's premier meerkat comparison website. Key in a few details, such as the size of meerkat you are looking for, your hobbies and your preferred meerkat location, and you're away. Aleksandr, Sergei (his trusty IT manager) and the integrated team at VCCP have built a website, developed innovative social media platforms and launched a database containing thousands of different meerkats. Aleksandr is adamant that everyone should be able to find their ideal meerkat. Since CompareTheMeerkat.com launched at the start of 2009, over five million people have compared meerkats, over half a million have become fans of Aleksandr Orlov on Facebook, and he has been heralded as a modern communications visionary for his integrated, innovative use of digital and social media platforms. INTRODUCING ALEKSANDR If you are not from the UK, or have not seen any CompareTheMeerkat.com content online, you might be forgiven for being confused. A talking Russian business meerkat? A meerkat comparison website? What's going on? The best place to start is http://www.comparethemeerkat.com/. But before you read on, go to the site, have a look at Aleksandr's TV ads (and the very funny TV out-takes) and compare some meerkats for yourself see if you can find the right meerkat for you. Remember to keep the sound up on your computer. Hopefully, it should start to make a bit of sense. You will see that, although Aleksandr Orlov is a very successful business meerkat, he is not happy. In fact, he is becoming rather angry. The bane of Aleksandr's life is a company called CompareTheMarket.com, a UK-based insurance price comparison website. The problem is that its name sounds very much like that of Aleksandr's site, so people come to his website wanting to compare cheap car insurance instead of wanting to compare meerkats. It is taking up his time and valuable Downloaded from warc.com
band-width and distracting him from his everyday business. Aleksandr has decided to launch an advertising campaign to clear up the 'meerkat/market' confusion once and for all. You see, it is really quite simple. Or, as Aleksandr would say, 'simples'. Let me take a step back and explain the thinking behind this very different approach to an integrated advertising campaign. It embraces a way of planning and a multi-layered way of cross-disciplinary working, influenced by UGC and user interaction, that will become the norm in the post-digital age. The insurance comparison market in the UK is notoriously crowded, competitive and undifferentiated. It's also a very low interest category, even though you could save hundreds of pounds on insurance costs by switching providers. So, when CompareTheMarket.com asked us to re-pitch for its advertising account, it was seen as a tough brief. We were issued with a clear-minded objective: develop a new advertising campaign that shakes up the insurance comparison sector, delivers outstanding business results to CompareTheMarket.com, and do it on a more efficient media budget than the competition. Where do you begin planning on a brief like this? VCCP's planning process started with an insight about the way people use Google. The majority find a price comparison site through Google, so it was essential to think about the key words they were typing in if we wanted them to come to...