Meet Aleksandr Orlov. I absolutely love this little fella. Aleksandr is a meerkat, and is fast becoming an icon. Unless you’ve been on the moon for the last few months, you’ll probably have seen his TV advertising to try and stop the confusion between his own website (comparethemeerkat.com) and a similar but entirely different website that sells insurance (comparethemarket.com). Like Aleksandr says in his east European drawl, the site “has been specials designed for easy way of comparing meerkats. If you are looking for cheap deal on car insurance, you go comparethemarket.com.”
So why do I love Aleksandr so much? Well, putting a personal love of meerkats aside for one moment (I even had one adopted for me at one time), the comparethemeerkat marketing campaign is one of the most innovative and unique ideas I’ve seen in a very long time. I’m in awe of the person who first came up with the concept, but what really makes the campaign work is the execution. For a start, who decided the meerkat in question was going to be Russian and wear a smoking jacket? And it’s clever too, as careful interrogation of the ad (it’s my job, OK?!) reveals that the emphasis is always carefully placed on the comparethemarket.com URL rather than its meerkat counterpart.
But comparethemeerkat is so much more than just an advertising campaign and has grown as its popularity has increased. There is a fully functioning website at www.comparethemeerkat.com where you can (obviously…) compare meerkats and, interestingly, this has the same Google pagerank as www.comparethemarket.com, suggesting that it gains a huge number of visitors and an equally impressive number of websites and blogs linking to it. It has great touches, such as the ‘welcome internet peoples’ message, voiceover on its homepage and the biography of Aleksandr. And cleverly, it also redirects you to comparethemarket.com after a few minutes of browsing, but in a very polite and unassuming way. It has also made significant roads into the social media landscape, with a Facebook page with nearly half a million fans, a wonderful Twitter feed that really engages with people, and numerous videos on YouTube, including out-takes. There are also ringtones, downloads, jingles and a fantastic family album on Flickr.
So I take my Cossack off not only to the people who came up with the idea and turned a concept into a fantastic campaign, but also to comparethemarket.com for being open to what at first must have seemed crazy, for being prepared to do something different, and for having fun with their brand. For inventive marketings example, go comparethemeerkat.com. Simples!