Well, it all started with marketing agency VCCP who - according to their website - very succinctly asks 3 questions when developing a creative concept:
Why will I talk about it?
How do I get involved?
What keeps the conversation going?
I think we can say they safely ticked all those boxes so far as the compare the meerkats' ad campaign is concerned!
So, VCCP approached Passion Pictures to create a CGi advert. There’s a charming vignette about the brief according to a 2009 article which describes how “The creatives at VCCP wanted a meerkat for a number of reasons most of which became clear when Darren Bailes (the creative director at VCCP) climbed up onto his chair in the first meeting to demonstrate”
I hope that’s true!
As we all know the star of the show is Aleksandr Orlov a Russian meerkat of aristocratic stock who in the original advert protested that people kept coming to his website www.comparethemeerkat.com instead of www.comparethethemarket.com
The commercial success of this campaign has led to this site being the 4th most visited insurance site in the UK despite only having half the budget of their competitors. And the early signs of success were there within 9 weeks of the campaign launching - with requested insurance quotes increasing by 80%!
As time has gone on Aleks has been joined by:
- Sergei - his IT technician, tea-maker and sidekick.
- Vassily - a regular at the Queasy Mongoose pub in fictitious Meerkova
- Maiya - a teacher at the Meerkovo School
- Student Meerpup Bogdan
- Yakov - the toy maker
In 2010 Orlov's "autobiography" was released and the book apparently generated more pre-orders than that of other books released at the same time reaching no 2 on the Amazon UK website in its first week.
The popularity of the whole concept is undiminished, there are apparently several downloads available as wallpapers, ringtones, text alerts and voicemail messages.
There’s even a branded iPhone app containing an extensive database of English phrases in "meerkat" pronunciation
Acccording to VCCP, Aleksandr now has over half a million fans on Facebook and over 39,000 followers on Twitter. This makes him officially more popular than Wayne Rooney and more inluential than Hilary Clinton!
And the point of this whole blog post in terms of marketing? Well I think it’s firstly to use VCCP’s 3 questions in terms of determining your own campaign and secondly to never be afraid about thinking out of the box. Simples!