5-star Wombat Shows Meerkat Risk Paid Off
Compare the Market
Let’s make it official: Carl The Wombat has been a huge success for Compare The Market. Since his first appearance a year ago, he’s given VCCP’s decade-long, hugely successful meerkats campaign a shot in the arm, becoming a reliable foil for Alexandr Orlov and Sergei with his well-meaning idiocy leading them into disaster after disaster.
Of course, when Carl debuted there was some pushback – people don’t always enjoy change – and there was a risk he might fail to maintain his initial appeal. But you need only look at the Star Ratings on Test Your Ad for Carl’s debut ad and this latest commercial to see that the wombat has what it takes. That debut scored 4.5-Stars back in January 2023. This new ad “Leak” scores 5.0-Stars – a clear improvement, and Carl’s first 5-Star commercial.
Even though Compare The Market is one of the great success stories of 21st century British advertising, it’s still a price comparison company, and brands in the insurance and price comparison sector don’t make 5-Star ads that often (the category average is 2.5-Stars, under the UK average for all ads). In fact, “Leak” is Compare The Market’s first 5-Star ad since May 2020, and their third highest scoring ever on our Test Your Ad database.
That’s very impressive given how long the campaign’s been running. While individual ads don’t wear out in the way people think, for one campaign to generate almost 15 years of successful ideas and still get 5-Star scores is a fantastic achievement.
So what makes Carl such a hit? VCCP and Compare The Meerkat have created the perfect opposite for their urbane meerkat characters – Carl jumps into any situation and invariably makes it worse. It means he’s a character viewers watch between their fingers even as his stupid ideas make them laugh. As well as shaking up a settled campaign with a touch of chaos, Carl’s disasters also remind viewers of why they need insurance in the first place (and why they might want to compare prices for it).
Carl’s success is worth studying – it’s not often that campaigns last as long as the meerkats, even Fluent Device campaigns which build stories around the same characters year on year. It’s even rarer for long-running campaigns to successfully introduce brand new elements – the only comparable example is the animated M&Ms’ introduction of new spokes-candies, and even there Ms Brown and others are more of the same. (Carl is more like putting a piece of liquorice in a chocolate box). VCCP and Compare The Meerkat should be congratulated on taking a risk and they’ve seen it pay off in effectiveness terms. Love him or hate him – and most people seem to love him – Carl the Wombat is here to stay.