Meerkats and insurance brands

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13 April 2010
Catherine Stagg-Macey
The Economist this week made an interesting point about brands. The public downfall of Tiger Woods is attributed to wiping of $12 billion in value of his then sponsors, Gatorade and Nike. From someone who is not offay with the world of marketing, this seems like a devastating consquence that was out of the hands of the brands. Since insurance isn't a consumer brand, it's hard to imagine such a negative impact of the brand association. When Swiftcover launched their Iggy Pop ad campaign, and the press released the fact that the insurer didn't cover musicians, it was hardly a black day for the insurer. So whilst there isn't much negative impact on the brand, there are some examples of a posititve impact. In the United Kingdom, there is a delightful campaign around Aleksandr Orlav, the meerkat—a fictional meerkat character used by BISL Limited in the comparethemarket.com advertising campaign. Comparethemarket.com has an advertising campaign based around a mock similar website. Originally the name was selected to highlight the “market” element of the website, since “compare” is a common term now in UK aggregator websites. The meerkat character has appeared in television, print, and online media adverts. It's a bit like marmite - it's a love or hate relationship, but no-one I know has been put off using CompareTheMarket's website. And what's really interesting is the effect of brand association with the meerkat. As the figure below shows, the meerkat campaign has helped increase traffic to the "sponsor" website". The meerkat also has the highest number of followers for UK insurers in social networks (Twitter and Facebook). This is one of the few examples of a succesful social network strategy, even if we measure the success only on page hits. What's clear from our conversations is that insurers are puzzled about how to leverage this new technology, and worry about chasing rabbits (or meerkats) down dark holes. We've pondered this topic too and will publish a report next week - here's to navigating rabbit holes and meerkats together.

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