mobilises mascot in change of ad strategy

Insurance comparison website is now punting on ads featuring a talking animated version of its brand mascot to compete with its rivals' opera singer and meerkat.

The first ad featuring the mascot, who features in the brand's logo and turns out to be a girl called Cara, will first appear on television tomorrow night during 'The X Factor'.

The ad shows the mascot coming to life and talking about the silly things people do on the internet, such as befriending people who used to lock you in cupboards at school, before moving on to talk up

Speaking to Marketing, chief marketing officer Mike Hoban said: "It's no surprise that characters have played a major role in the development of this industry.

"It's very easy to create advertising to people find irritating. It's much harder to create advertising that people enjoy and engage [with].

"We hope that we've done it in a way that is engaging and insightful rather than irritating, cheesy or gimmicky."

Three ads in total have been created in-house and produced by animators Hornet. Media buying is handled by PHD. had previously used ads featuring people being haunted by items, such as a guitar, they could have bought if they had saved money using

Hoban said of the new approach: "What we're selling here is that have been leaders in this market, we created this market, and it's incumbent on us to help the consumer continue to find it easy to save money."

A second ad will focus on car insurance. Hoban declined to reveal the third ad's content but said: "Our intent is these ads will be quite topical as they break going forward." parted company with Beattie McGuinness Bungay, the agency which created the ad campaign, in July.

This came after the arrival of Hoban as chief marketing officer on 1 July.

The company admitted the failure of the campaign in its financial results at the end of August, saying it was the "key factor" behind falls in revenue, profit and margin.

The emergence of the ads comes amid increasing speculation the brand has been searching for a new advertising agency.

Hoban said: "We are actively reviewing our approach to the market but where that will lead us I can't say."

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