|Industry||Finance and insurance|
|Headquarters||Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, UK|
comparethemarket.com 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.
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, 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. It competes with other aggregators operating in the same field, such as moneysupermarket.com (launched in 1993), USwitch (2000), Confused.com (2001), gocompare.com (2006), Money.co.uk (2008), Quotall.com (2010) and Free Price Compare (2013).
In mid-2007, comparethemarket.com struck a deal, reputedly worth £5 million, with UK TV Channel 4 to sponsor its drama output. The idents were created by VCCP, a subsidiary of Chime Communications plc, which comparethemarket.com had appointed in March 2007 to manage its £20 million advertising account. 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.
Compare the Market allows customers to compare prices on a number of insurance products including car, home, van, life, pet, travel and over 50s insurance. It has also expanded in to the comparison of items that can be switched such as energy/utilities, broadband and digital TV, as well as a range of financial products such as loans, credit cards and ISAs.
Compare the Market claim that they make comparing the market easy and show as many providers as possible, with some brands choosing not to pay the fee to appear on the site, preferring instead to run their own marketing campaigns, such as Direct Line.
Compare the Meerkat campaign
On 5 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, who pleads with viewers looking for cheap car insurance to stop confusing his meerkat comparison website comparethemeerkat.com with comparethemarket.com, due to the similarity between the words meerkat and market. Comparethemeerkat.com, 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.
According to Nielsen Online, the number of monthly unique visitors to comparethemarket.com increased from 218,000 in February 2008 to 1.1 million in February 2009, driven by the successful campaign. By July 2009 it was ranked as the third-largest price comparison website in the UK.
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.
From 1 July 2011, any customer purchasing insurance or credit card via comparethemarket.com receives a cuddly meerkat toy. Originally customers would get sent a meerkat toy from the collection, but later customers were able to choose from a host of meerkat characters: Aleksandr, Sergei, Vassily, Yakov, Maiya or Bogdan. Compare the Market would soon launch several special editions of their toys such as Maiya in a spy costume, baby Oleg (Who was introduced on 25 December 2013) in a safari costume and Sergei and Aleksandr dressed in a Batman and Superman costume to celebrate the launch of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
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.
In April 2015, comparethemarket.com launched Meerkat Movies, offering customers who have purchased a qualifying product 2 for 1 cinema tickets every Tuesday or Wednesday for a whole year. Existing customers were gifted the tickets for the remainder of their policy, via a 'Golden Envelope' mailer.
Meerkat Movies takes over from 'Orange Wednesdays' and is likely to be the UK's biggest cinema promotion to date.
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- The Guardian 11/08/09
- "Car insurance giant throws in a free meerkat for every policy sold in 'simples' marketing ploy". Daily Mail. 1 July 2011.
- O'Reilly, Lara (12 July 2012). "Comparethemarket to sponsor Corrie". Marketing Week. Retrieved 2013-01-12.