's success makes rival price-comparison sites re-evaluate their strategies

LONDON - The success of the 'Comparethemeerkat' campaign for has driven strategy reviews at leading price-comparison sites and

The campaign, created by VCCP, has propelled Comparethemarket into the 'big four' of price-comparison sites, and has got its rivals worried about protecting their market share. As's chief exec-utive, Carlton Hood, says: 'The meerkat has raised the bar.'

His site has shortlisted Iris, Krow, McCann Erickson and Beattie McGuinness Bungay to pitch for its £25m ad account, which it expects to finalise in September.

Although has maintained a constant presence on TV, it has struggled to differentiate itself from other comparison sites. Hood says it is 'considering all opt-ions' for its ad strategy in the coming year, but insists that the site has communicated its brand values well., the market leader, has also embarked on a review of its ad account, just weeks after launching DCH's £14m ad campaign featuring Dragons' Den entrepreneur Peter Jones.

According to Ian Williams, the brand's director of communications, 'The meerkat has put Comparethemarket into contention.'

Mark Vile, marketing director at Comparethemarket, says site traffic has been up 200% year on year in the last three months, while Aleksandr, the meerkat character, has 500,000 fans on Facebook.

The site ran its first TV ads in July 2007, but only started to make a name for itself this year. 'We realised there was an opportunity to be the one price-comparison site that had engaging and entertaining adverts,' says Vile.

VCCP is now working on the next spot. Launching in September, it will focus on how Aleksandr relaxes and gets away from the stresses of people asking him about car insurance.

Vile says his £25m marketing budget has not increased, but the brand's advertising has become more effective. 'It is a genuine return on a creative idea,' he explains. 'We would rather be the most profitable price-comparison site than the one with the most volume.'

The meerkat campaign has set a challenge for its rivals: to drive significant brand awareness on limited budgets. says it reduced its adspend by 25% year on year. Meanwhile, Hood says that will move into digital to 'create a more effective dialogue with consumers'.

The price-comparison sites are also expanding into sectors such as caravan insurance, although Vile warns that this could weaken their brands.

'It is a debate for all the sites; how they push into sectors that they think are untapped without losing focus,' he adds.

Ultimately, Vile is cautious about diluting Comparethemarket's new-found brand strength. 'We are the most recognised brand in the sector. It will take time to move to the number-one market position - and, obviously, that is our aspiration.'



Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network