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Monday, 17 March 2014

Analysing “Compare the Meerkat”

This campaign for www.comparethemarket.com (UK) is a brilliant concept that has been rolled out through multiple executions in the UK – 19 to be exact. It featured a TV spot, companion website and social media links. It generated such a buzz amongst the general population in the UK, that it is unprecedented within the Insurance Comparison Industry. It is arguably one of the most successful long-running campaigns in the UK. It has been running for five years and has resulted in the entering of the catchphrase, “Simples,” from the main character, Aleksandr Orlov, into the Oxford English Dictionary.

The campaign has now been rolled out to the Australian market and is on its 3rd execution here. It has been voted 2nd in the Ipsos ASI People’s Choice Awards August 2013, but it remains to be seen if it will have the run-away success here that it did in the UK.

The version of the campaign – Commercial 10, I have featured is an all-time classic (as many of them were), and this one really resonated with the audience. It features Aleksandr visiting his ageing Russian relatives in a retirement home.


I have applied the SCORE framework for my analysis as follows:

SIMPLE – the clear single-minded idea is once again (as in the prior 9 ads), that Alexandr is attempting to illustrate the confusion people are experiencing in mixing up his website www.comparethemeerkat.com (UK website) with the insurance comparison website www.comparethemarket.com (UK website). It reinforces the web address in an unforgettable way.

CREATIVE – the fact that the ad ran for 19 different executions illustrates the effectiveness of the creative.

The character development of the meerkats is incredibly detailed and tells their story. I have also shown the 6th execution which illustrates their migration from the Kalahari to Russia. It ends with the classic tagline used in so many of their ads, “Simples”. This became a saying in the UK that was used in so many work and social situations – a classic ‘water cooler moment’.


The repetitive use of the copy – “comparethemarket.com” in the 10th execution between the crazy old retirees makes the message memorable. The Russian accenting and phrasing in all the TV, website and social media copy further develops the personality of the characters and the brand.

The campaign was incredibly ORIGINAL and made an insurance comparison brand one of the most memorable and top-of-mind brands in the UK. It's goal was to double the Compare the Market business and the campaign helped its owner, Douw Steyn, achieve an estimated fortune of £420m. It was also voted the most liked ad of 2012.

The ad was obviously RELEVANT to its broad target market – adults requiring insurance aged 17+. The meerkat’s fame has most certainly transferred onto the brand. The website is now ranked the 4th most visited insurance website in the UK, up from 16th in January 2008. Aleksandr has 80,753 fans on Facebook; 62,971 followers on Twitter; and even has a LinkedIn profile.

The ad is ETHICAL. The only problem that occurred during this campaign was in August 2009 when the Guardian newspaper ran an opinion piece accusing the advertising of racism for mocking Eastern European accents. The Advertising Standards Authority stated that this was the only complaint they had received from this one author of the opinion piece.

Overall, one would have to agree that this ad is incredibly effective and forms part of a much larger successful campaign. Most importantly, the ads are memorable and likeable. The consumer response was so great that people started using the www.comparethemarket.com website just to receive a free meerkat toy of their choice. It seems everybody wanted one.

Elizabeth M.
National Account Director - Blaze Advertising (Y&R Brands)
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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