Can Gio Compario take on Compare the Meerkat? |

Can Gio Compario take on Compare the Meerkat?

By Kevin Gibbons / August 23, 2009

There’s a new face in the world of price comparison site marketing, but how will Gio Compario compare to Aleksandr Orlov, founder of Compare the Meerkat?

If you haven’t yet encountered Gio Compario then the chances are you will soon – he’s Go Compare’s answer to Compare the meerkat:

The world of price comparison websites is a competitive one and the arrival of the Compare the Meerkat campaign undoubtedly rocked it – as one of the smaller brands took a sudden huge bite of market share and reached the top four.

So, can Gio work the meerkat magic on Go Compare? The elements are all there – he has his own microsite, you can ‘become a fan‘ on Facebook (and at time or writing, there are 1,500 or so fans).

There are puns (“he’s only a tenor”), there is a catchy tune and there is a solid marketing campaign even behind the marketing campaign (“Who is Gio?” has been the teaser campaign, if you haven’t seen it).

Despite this, I don’t see Gio having the same success – or even a fraction of the success of that meerkat.

Aleksandr has been around much longer, it’s true, but even so – it will take a great deal of success for Gio to beat the meerkat. At the time of writing, the rodent (are meerkats rodents?) has 541,457 fans and a campaign to have ‘simples’ added to the dictionary.

His Facebook is a masterstroke in building an affectionate brand – including status updates such as: “Congratulations Usain Bolt. How can world’s fastest man also have world’s fastest name? Is like me being called Aleksandr Handsome Success.”

Gio might have worked pre-meerkat, but now I expect he will be seen as a second-rate attempt to capture the success of the Compare the Meerkat campaign.

So how do you create a successful marketing campaign that captures the imagination of your target audience, adds new phrases to our language and sparks an unexpected spike in zoo visitor numbers (as people go to, well, compare meekats…)?

To be honest, if there was a simple answer to that and I knew it, I’d be sunning myself on a beach right now with Aleksandr’s creator. But here are a few of the things Compare the Market’s marketers did oh so very well.

Created a charming personality

Unlike Barry Scott or most other persona-driven campaigns, we love Aleksandr, he’s charming.

The campaign doesn’t rely on the jingle getting stuck in your head or the ad itself being so ridiculous, you discuss it with your friends.

Instead, the character is so superbly crafted that you’ll enthuse to your friends about him and sing the jingle cheerfully.

Marketed offline and on

So often brilliant marketing campaigns are not supported online, but this was far from the case with the meerkat marketing, which was hugely successful.

Not search marketing success, it has to be said (Compare the Market apparently failed to bid for meerkat search terms, meaning other comparison sites did and effectively nabbed a fair amount of traffic).

However, the campaign had everything in place it needed to go viral: a microsite, a Facebook page, wallpaper to download, Aleksandr’s family history – the lot.

There was a tonne of content people enjoyed and wanted to share, so they did.

Returned to the brand

With a campaign as popular as the meerkats, there was always a danger that the advertising would outstrip the actual service being sold – and apparently there’s no money to be made comparing meerkats.

Aleksandr’s eagerness to remind visitors that ‘this ees not Compare the Market dot com’ means the brand being actually promoted is constantly called to your attention.

Developed the story

Compare the meerkat may be an excellent pun but the marketing team didn’t leave it at just that.

There has been ongoing development and expansion of the original idea, with new characters like Sergei being introduced and even a bloopers reel being released.

When people are engaged with a concept, they need to be stimulated by fresh material and will quickly recognise and despise anything that looks like a rehash.

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