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Industry Finance and insurance
Founded 2006
Headquarters Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, UK
Products Financial services
Website is a UK price comparison website that is part of the BGL Group. The website also offers other on-line companies the ability to provide their customers with a co-branded or white labelled comparison service.[1]

Founded in 2006, the website achieved significant success in the market following the launch in 2009 of an advertising campaign featuring a series of meerkat characters, after which it became the third-largest price comparison website in the UK.


The website was set up by Budget Group (now BGL Group) in early 2006,[2] following a strategic decision to concentrate on areas with significant growth potential – it sold its high street business to Swinton as part of the same review.[3] It competes with other aggregators operating in the same field, such as (launched in 1993), (2001), (2006), (2010) and Free Price Compare (2013).[4]

In mid-2007, struck a deal, reputedly worth £5 million, with UK TV Channel 4 to sponsor its drama output.[5] The idents were created by VCCP, a subsidiary of Chime Communications plc,[5] which had appointed in March 2007 to manage its £20 million advertising account.[6] In March 2008, the website launched an advertising campaign on Virgin Radio which asked listeners and online audiences to compare artists and bands with musical legends for the chance of winning tickets to major gigs.[7]

Compare the Meerkat campaign[edit]

The "Aleksandr Orlov" meerkat character used in the company's advertising since 2009
Main article: Compare the Meerkat

In January 2009, the company launched an advertising campaign created by VCCP with characters designed, and adverts directed, by Darren Walsh at Passion Pictures. The adverts feature a CGI Russian meerkat character named "Aleksandr Orlov", voiced by Simon Greenall,[8] who pleads with viewers looking for cheap car insurance to stop confusing his meerkat comparison website with, due to the similarity between the words meerkat and market., a website created by the advertising agency, does indeed allow visitors to compare meerkats, and was reporting more than 2 million hits per month by late 2010.[9]

According to Nielsen Online, the number of monthly unique visitors to increased from 218,000 in February 2008 to 1.1 million in February 2009, driven by the successful campaign.[10] By July 2009 it was ranked as the third-largest price comparison website in the UK.[11]

In August 2009 an opinion piece in The Guardian newspaper accused the advert series of racism for mocking Eastern European accents. However, the Advertising Standards Authority, following a complaint by the author of the article, stated that it had not received any similar complaints.[12]

From July 2011, any customer purchasing insurance or credit card via receives a cuddly meerkat toy.[13]

In November 2012, the website started sponsoring the long-running soap opera Coronation Street on ITV1 in a three-year deal, costing around £30 million.[14]

Other adverts[edit]

In December 2012 another advert was launched this time featuring Maurice Wigglethorpe-Throom (played by Robert Webb) the founder of Compare the Market and his assistant Spencer who find out about Aleksandr (who makes a cameo appearance in a photograph) and Compare the Meerkat.


  1. ^ "Compare The Market". BGL Group. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Newman, Andrew (1 May 2006). "Another good year for Budget". Insurance Brokers' Monthly – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2013-01-11. 
  3. ^ "WHAT'S NEW?". Insurance Brokers' Monthly – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 1 September 2006. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  4. ^ Hunter, Teresa (10 September 2006). "Hunt down a bargain online". Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh, Scotland) – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  5. ^ a b Oatts, Joanne (14 June 2007). "Channel 4 signs new drama sponsor". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  6. ^ "IN BRIEF: Comparethemarket review #20m account.". Precision Marketing – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 13 October 2008. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  7. ^ "Comparethemarket runs integrated ads across Virgin Radio". Econsultancy. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  8. ^ "How Passion created Aleks the billionaire meerkat". Archived from the original on 25 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  9. ^ Hickman, Martin (29 October 2010). "The 'Simples!' idea that became a £10m empire". The Independent (London). 
  10. ^ "Meerkat ads drive 400% rise in visitors for comparison site". Econsultancy. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  11. ^ " Case Study - making the most of viral marketing". Datamonitor (summary by researchandmarkets). July 2009. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  12. ^ The Guardian 11/08/09
  13. ^ "Car insurance giant throws in a free meerkat for every policy sold in 'simples' marketing ploy". Daily Mail. 1 July 2011. 
  14. ^ O'Reilly, Lara (12 July 2012). "Comparethemarket to sponsor Corrie". Marketing Week. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 

External links[edit]