Comparethemarket in meerkat toys giveaway

Comparethemarket, the comparison site, is launching a reward scheme to drive consumer loyalty by giving away free meerkat soft toys, based on various characters in the popular ads, including Aleksandr.

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As part of the ‘Simples Rewards’ scheme, customers who buy car, van, home or pet insurance from today through comparethemarket will be able to register on to receive one of six meerkat toys.

As well as a cuddly Aleksandr Orlov, customers can get their hands on Sergie, Vassily the pub rocker, Maiya the school mistress, Bogdan the meerpup and Yakov the toymaker.

The scheme is being backed by a "significant" marketing investment, with the launch of an integrated advertising campaign.

The campaign, created by VCCP, features TV ads in which the Russian meerkat visits the UK for the first time from his native Meerkovo to deliver the toys.

It will also be the first ad in which Aleksandr interacts with human actors. The ad will be supported by press, cinema, outdoor and digital ads.

Zenith handled the media planning and buying for the campaign, while The Mill developed the Meerkovo site and LBi worked on the Comparethemarket site development for the rewards scheme. 

Mark Vile, marketing director at Comparethemarket, said: "As a business we continually look to innovate and this is the first time that a price comparison site will have actually recognised customers by rewarding them by coming to the site."

Currently it only has plans to limit ‘Simples Rewards’ to insurance purchases but Vile said depending on what customers say it could roll out beyond those four products.

Aleksandr Orlov, who has over 46,000 Twitter followers, has been hinting about his visit to the UK via Twitter this week, saying: "I am pack for the UK but there is only room for one pair of swimming shorts. Which style is make me look most like furry beach sensation?"

In March this year, Neilsen produced a study, showing that comparison site audiences are ‘fickle’ and while there is a lot of brand awareness in the category, due to the high TV spends, the main four brands struggle to retain online audiences once an ad campaign has finished.

Commenting on the study, Vile said: "If you look at the comparison sector it’s predominantly been advertising led and that has created saliency. But what every comparison site I imagine would be thinking about is how do you get people to convert to your brand."

"That is exactly our thinking and the way we wanted to do it is by giving something back to our consumers," he said.

The rewards scheme has similarities to Natwest’s piggy bank scheme in the 80s, which gave customers the collectible pigs when they saved with the bank.

In December 2009, the Aleksandr soft toys were due to go on sales exclusively in Harrods. They were given away to charity in the end, due to the high demand they received. The new toys will not be on sale and will only be available through the scheme.

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