G’day, Carl! Wombat Debut Is A Hit For Comparethemarket
Compare The Market
Don't wombat it Meerkat it
Recurring ‘Fluent Device’ characters are one of the most effective tactics for a sustained, brand-building campaign. And there aren’t many more successful Fluent Devices than Compare The Market’s Meerkats, who have been entertaining viewers since 2009 with few signs of stopping.
The meerkats have been around for so long that their “early work” now has nostalgia value – witness meerkat toys becoming the subject of a recent TikTok trend, an apparently unlikely event that was actually carefully planned and managed by agency VCCP.
But every Fluent Device needs occasional refreshing. This week’s Ad Of The Week sees Compare The Market welcome a new character to their furry cast – the meerkats’ Australian relative Carl. Big, loveable, but alas more than slightly accident-prone, Carl is a wombat, and his initial outing sees him get the meerkat family into a spot of trouble with the law before he’s even cleared immigration.
The introduction of Carl has two benefits for the brand. He lets Compare The Market and VCCP tell some different kinds of stories, and keeps interest up in the campaign as a whole. And he also serves as a relatable figure for viewers who themselves are sometimes more like the hapless Carl than the cunning Alexandr Orlov. The campaign’s tagline – “Don’t wombat it” – is the kind of memorably surreal phrase that can lodge in people’s heads and become yet another distinctive asset for the brand.
But all these benefits depend on the answer to one crucial question. Do people like Carl the Wombat? And on the basis of this first ad, the answer is yes. Carl’s debut scores a very strong 4.6-Stars – well in line with Compare The Market’s typically high scores for their popular campaign. Even more encouragingly, short-term Spike rating is Exceptional – suggesting people are excited and motivated by the new ad. Brand Fluency is solidly Good, and we’d expect that to improve as people get used to the new face.
Carl’s introduction is successful asset management by Compare The Market. In 2022 the brand briefly suspended their ads after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and other brands might have taken it as a cue to review the long-running campaign. Wisely, Compare The Market opted to tweak their cast instead. In our headline-making study from last year we presented new evidence that “wear-out” in advertising is a myth, and that most ads are killed far too quickly by impatient, novelty-seeking brands.
Fluent Devices in particular are more likely to grow in effectiveness than to “wear out”, and introducing new characters and elements is a great way to extend their lifespan. So this isn’t just a successful debut for Carl, it’s a reminder that there are always creative ways to get more mileage out of a successful Fluent Device.