Price comparison sites are stuck in a gimmick-laden “arms race” to nowhere that Confused.com’s top marketer is hoping to break from by using funnyman James Corden to refocus the brand on saving drivers money.
Scrapping Brian the Robot might not be what’s expected from the man that masterminded MoneySupermarket’s much-imitated 'Epic ' marketing strategy, and yet chief marketing officer Paul Troy felt there was no other way to bring the brand back from the brink. Growing competition from a certain Russian Meerkat and mustachioed opera singer pushed Confused.com’s profit down 20.9 per cent last year to £12.5m, and in turn caused a reappraisal nine months in the making.
The result is a pared back Confused.com; where it’s rivals want to be jack of all trades, spanning multiple categories, Confused.com wants to be a master of one – the automotive space. It sees the business return to its roots at a time when two thirds of those people on price comparison sites are there for car insurance, claimed Troy. Despite that, none of the price comparison sites really own the category, he continued, with most people defaulting to the sector’s largest player Comparethemarket because of a popular gimmick. “What if there was a reason for people to come to us and that reason was we’re a one-stop saving shop for everything car,” explained the marketer, who revealed early parts of the campaign have already edged its market share past MoneySupermarket.
“The smart move here was not to play in the same space as our competitors as it’s like there’s a nuclear arms race between MoneySupermarket, Comparethemarket and GoCompare,” continued Troy. “All they can do is keep trying to be noisier than the other… everyone has lost sight of what the category is all about.”
It’s little wonder then why Troy has high hopes for the main phase of the campaign, which launches tomorrow (3 August) with comedian James Corden. Devised in partnership with Karmarama, the campaign reimagines its focus on drivers as ‘driver wins’, a riff on those uncelebrated moments during a drive when things go right like a perfect park. Corden’s perfect drive sees him get lucky with every set of traffic lights turning green in what is the first in a series of ads he will star in. There’s the possibility that the comedian could front the campaign long-term, though Troy hinted that other celebs could step in the limelight given the flexibility of the idea.
Fortuitously, Corden is currently one of the world’s most famous drivers at the moment thanks to the ‘Carpool Karaoke’ segment of his US programme Late Late Show, which has become a viral hit with duets with the likes of Adele and Michelle Obama generating millions of views. Confused.com plans to exploit that popularity by using geo-locks in the UK to ensure that pre-rolls of its own ad play before Carpool Karaoke skits.
It’s emblematic of how aggressive the business is coming out the gate with it confident it will be the biggest TV spenders in August, while it has already “invested heavily” in September. Beyond TV, Confused.com will sponsor car content in both the Sun and the Sunday Times as well as a tie-up with the Heart radio network. Additionally, Confused.com’s portal has been revamped, covering MOT and service comparison, car buying and selling.
“I actually see the AA and the RAC as indirect competitors now but the difference is they don’t save you money whereas that’s our sole mission,” Troy added. “We weren’t making the progress that we needed to make and needed a new ambition now because we want to be number one in car savings. The other stuff like pet insurance, ect we don’t care about.”
There’s a chance that Confused.com’s rivals might follow suit should the market continue to prove difficult, with MoneySupermarket coming off the back of two quarters of slow growth and rumours that Comparethemarket’s Meerkat Movies push is struggling. “We’ve done a lot of work over the last nine months to get to where we are and the challenge for most marketers is to get the business on side with the right strategy,” explained Troy as to why he’s not concerned about imitators.
One thing Confused.com will be keeping an eye on is how the Brexit result takes shape over the coming months. “I’m more confident it [about Brexit] than most,” assured Troy. “I think we have a downturn or there’s some pressure on the economy over the next year then I think price comparison sites would do well because people would end up looking to save money.”