Hiding amid the usual flurry of January sales ads, I spotted this commercial for Comparethemarket.com - and, shock horror, it's a Comparethemarket ad without 'the Meerkat'.
Instead it features Peep Show star Robert Webb. In a faux upper-class accent, he introduces himself as Comparethemarket founder and chief executive Maurice Wigglethorpe-Throom, and urges people to keep an eye on the interest rates they are charged. This is either utter madness or complete genius.
At an executional level, it looks like the former. The 'Meerkat' campaign was marvellously fresh, quirky and distinctive. This ad seems a lot more laboured, less funny and, as a result, less memorable. I worry it's getting a little complicated for an idea that was at its heart, brilliantly simple.
A lot of posts online concur. 'Bring back the Meerkat!' they shout.
Yet maybe, just maybe, this is where the genius lies. Perhaps there were, in fact, signs that the meerkat campaign was beginning to go unnoticed. In which case, there is nothing like absence to make the heart grow fonder. So, perhaps this is exactly the right response. Introduce a new character to rekindle consumers' love for the one it has replaced and get people talking.
Ultimately, this could give the campaign more legs. Creating a rivalry between Wigglethorpe-Throom and Aleksandr Orlov might add interest to the campaign and allow for a return to 'the Meerkat' with renewed freshness and interest. So, even if this execution doesn't hit the same creative high notes or become a longer-term property, it may still have a nice residual effect.
Of course, this is all idle speculation; only time will tell whether or not this is a good move. Nonetheless, while I don't love the execution, I do love the willingness to change, in order to remain original and talked-about.
Brand strategy verdict
I applaud the intention to keep this campaign fresh, talked-about and future-proof, but this simply does not hit the highs of 'the Meerkat' spots.
7 out of 10
|Which of the following TV commercials do you remember seeing recently?|
|Latest rank||Jan-31||Brand||Agency/TV buyer||Recall|
|2||-||Virgin Holidays||Elvis, M&C Saatchi/Manning Gottlieb OMD||46|
|3||-||Thomas Cook||Heye & Partner/Arena Media||42|
|8=||-||P&O Cruises||Walker Agency/Vizeum||35|
|10||-||118 118||The Brooklyn Brothers/ZenithOptimedia||33|
Adwatch research was conducted from 17-21 January 2013 by TNS as part of its twice-weekly OnLineBus omnibus among 1000 adults aged 16-64. For details of the survey, contact Bob.Salmons@tnsglobal.com (020 7160 5581). Ads were compiled by Ebiquity (020 7650 9700) and Mediaedge:cia UK (020 7803 2000).
|Which of the following online ads do you remember seeing recently?|
|Latest rank||Nov-28||Brand||Agency/TV buyer||Recall|
|2||6||Marks & Spencer||
Saatchi & Saatchi/
Blue Hive, Wunderman/
Wieden & Kennedy/
Adwatch research was conducted from 8-10 January 2013 (November and December internet advertising) by TNS as part of its twice-weekly OnLineBus omnibus among 1000 adults aged 16-64. For details of the survey, contact Bob.Salmons@tnsglobal.com (020 7160 5581). Ads were compiled by Ebiquity (020 7650 9700) and Mediaedge:cia UK (020 7803 2000).