Advertising that sticks. Simples!

December 5, 2010

There’s something about his accent and indignation that has made the dressing-gown Russian meerkat Aleksandr Orlov an advertising sensation, selling a product without having to mention its name.

VCCP’s ‘Compare the Meerkats’ Campaign for comparethemarket.com has proved highly contagious. Aleksandr Orlov’s catchphrase “Simples!” and his trademark squeak has permeated popular consciousness, having won mentions from celebrities such as Davina McCall during the 2009 Big Brother Launch party, and even evolving into Jay’s catchphrase from the ‘Inbetweeners’. Not content with a few high profile disclosures, Aleksandr started a petition to make ‘simples’ a new entry into the Oxford English Dictionary and ‘simples’ has subsequently been voted the new word of 2009.

Aleksandr Orlov

The campaign uses a range of digital executions to develop Aleksandr’s personality, which has resulted in Aleksandr amassing a fanbase on Facebook that rivals those of the average B-lister, accumulating nearly 42,000 followers on Twitter, (despite links pointing to its spoof microsite, comparethemeerkat.com) and a achieved around 50,000 downloads in one day for the recently released ‘iSimples’ iPhone app. In addition to the social networking sites, Aleksandr was launched asa £19.95 toy for sale in Harrods with a donation going towards London Zoo, which reportedly saw a 40% increase in visitors at the meerkat enclosure.

This campaign’s effectiveness in my opinion is due to its aggressive play and boldness. Comparethemarket.com has managed to differentiate itself in an industry where all its competitors share the same benefits. Admittedly the ubiquity of the campaign helped implant the unforgettable catchphrase into our minds, but ultimately Aleksandr has maintained longevity in the nation’s affections as he’s a genuinely enjoyable and likeable character. Aleksandr the meerkat has become a shortcut reference for the brand and is actually more interesting than the brand itself as he is continually placed in entertaining scenarios that capture our attention and cause real-time engagement. What’s more we can connect with Aleksandr on a human level by reading his life-story: A Simples Life: The Life and Times of Aleksandr Orlov. According to the Independent, the meerkats autobiography is being tipped as the literary sensation of the year – and is expected to beat the likes of Nelson Mandela, Keith Richards and Tony Blair to the top book slot in the Christmas market.

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