MANAGING A CELEBRITY MEERKAT for comparethemarket.com

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MANAGING A CELEBRITY MEERKAT

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Industry Banking & Financial Services, Website
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United Kingdom
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Financial Services, incl. Investor Relations and Corporate Finance
Advertiser: COMPARETHEMARKET.COM
Product/Service: PRICE COMPARISON WEBSITE
Managing Director/ Founder: Andrew Bloch (Frank PR)
Director: Alex Grier (Frank PR)
Account Director: Nicole Rose (Frank PR)
Account Manager: Kate Brackenborough (Frank PR)
Account Executive: Tom Antoniw (Frank PR)
Junior Account Executive: Sophie Kay (Frank PR)
Media placement: 'Bloopers' viral and press release - Metro - 24th July 2009
Media placement: 'At Home DPS Interview with Aleksandr' - Hello Magazine - 10th July 2009
Media placement: Ad amplification press release - The Times - 4th September 2009
Media placement: 'Meerchat' podcast and press release - Daily Mail Online - 13th November 2009
Media placement: 'Meerchat' podcast and press release - The Sun - 13th November 2009
Media placement: 'Interview with Aleksandr' - The Daily Telegraph - 23rd January 2010
Media placement: 'Simples in the Dictionary' press release - The Sun - 30th December 2009
Media placement: 'Simples in the Dictionary' press release - The Sunday Telegraph - 3rd January 2010
Media placement: 'Cuddly Toy' launch - The Sun - 20th October 2009
Media placement: 'Cuddly Toy' launch - Alan Titchmarsh Show ITV - 3rd December 2009

Summary of the Campaign
Our challenge was to differentiate price-comparison website comparethemarket.com from their competitors by bringing to life their TV creative, comparethemeerkat.com. We set out to make the star of their ads, billionaire Russian Meerkat Aleksandr Orlov, famous, to increase consumer engagement and give the brand personality in a wider media arena. Treating Aleksandr as a celebrity in his own right, we implemented a number of creative PR tactics, each designed to drive talkability and delight consumers, encouraging them to interact with the brand online. All activity was carefully managed to avoid consumer and media fatigue, by executing surprising media 'firsts'. Our results included over 60 national media hits within the first 6 months (counting 3 front-pages) and 33:1 return-on-investment. Aleksandr now has over 36,000 Twitter followers, making him more influential than Boris Johnson and Hilary Clinton, and over 709,000 Facebook fans, giving him the most popular UK branded fan-page. His catchphrase “Simples” is included in the Oxford English Dictionary, and was voted 'word of the year 2009' by Oxford University Press. The brand has gone from 4th to 1st in spontaneous awareness rankings and is now first in consideration rankings. Its market share has tripled over the past year.

The Goal
Our campaign objectives were: - Drive further consideration amongst consumers, increasing Talkability® around the TV ad campaign. - Bring Aleksandr and his personality to life and ensure longevity of the brand character - Take the brand off the financial pages to reach mainstream consumers via traditional media. - Develop a social media platform to encourage direct interaction with the brand online building an organic digital forum to share content. - Create a genuine fan base for Aleksandr. Our target audience was all driving UK adults (male and female over the age of 17).

Results
- 63 national media hits within 6 months. - The successful Facebook petition to get "Simples!" into the dictionary was supported by 10,000+ people. - The Hello "At Home With Aleksandr" drove 8,000+ insurance quotes within a day. - The Meerchat received 200,000+ downloads, reaching No.2 in the iTunes chart. - The pre-stock of toys at Harrods sold-out within a day with some auctioned for charity for £1,000+ each. The Sun’s competition to win 50 toys received 30,000+ entries making it their biggest ever toy competition . - Website traffic increased 400% increasing quote requests by 80%, and decreasing cost per acquisition by 73%. - Mark Vile, Marketing Director at comparethemarket.com has said, "PR has added a level of fame, love and engagement to the brand that otherwise might not have been achieved. We’re able to attribute an increase in direct quote volume as a result of the PR – the best measure of a successful campaign."

Execution
1. Created stand-out via surprising content and media firsts: • The first fictional brand character interview in Hello with an "At Home" double-page-spread with Aleksandr. • Sun journalist Charlotte Martin was given the world's first "face-to-face" interview with Aleksandr – a 'Sun world exclusive' hosted on Sunonline. • Campaigned to get his catchphrase "Simples!" into the Oxford English Dictionary. 2. Building love for Aleksandr: • Produced official Aleksandr Orlov toys to go on sale exclusively at Harrods, with profits going to London Zoo. • Created a monthly podcast chat-show Meerchat, interviewing world famous celebrity stars of Baywatch and Britain’s Got Talent, David Hasselhoff and Piers Morgan. 3. Driving engagement via social media networks: • Released exclusive stills and offered fans exclusive content, e.g. via the first premier of an advert on Facebook. • Seeded Bloopers (which secured a front page of Metro) to build on TV copy and drive content sharing.

The Situation
Price-comparison website comparethemarket.com wanted to stand out in a crowded market by amplifying their advertising platform, comparethemeerkat.com, and making eccentric Russian meerkat, Aleksandr Orlov, famous. A number of brands in the sector were fighting for share-of-voice, however research showed that consumers considered one price comparison site to be as good as another, with very little to differentiate them. Our challenge was: 1.Bring to life the above-the-line activity to take Aleksandr to a broader audience. 2.Increase consumer engagement by driving traffic to comparethemeerkat.com. 3.Raise Aleksandr’s profile making him the nation’s best loved brand icon to build brand loyalty.

The Strategy
Our strategy was 3-fold: 1. Create stand-out versus other price-comparison websites by positioning CTM as the price-comparison website with personality, by generating surprising and entertaining content that would give the campaign depth and breadth nationwide. 2. Build love and affection for Aleksandr to develop a successful long-term brand character, avoiding consumer and media fatigue: 'More Kylie (Minogue) than Kerry (Katona)' became the PR policy, focusing on high impact PR that would help to make Aleksandr famous outside of the TV adverts. 3. Drive consumer engagement with the brand and increase traffic to the main CTM website to drive quotes, by incorporating Social Media into all elements of the activity – building the Facebook and Twitter fan sites, creating content, driving traffic and linking to these sites.