Pure and simples: why 'dropping the meerkats' is a great marketing stunt by Compare the Market
The meerkats are one of the most popular advertising creations of all time.
We haven't seen the last of Aleksandr
Since their arrival on our screens in 2009 they have been credited with doubling the value of the Compare the Market business and propelling its owner Douw Steyn towards an estimated £420m fortune.
Like ITV Digital’s Monkey and Levi’s Flat Eric, the cuddly creatures have been turned into toys and their ‘Simples’ catchphrase has even entered the Collins English Dictionary.
But despite being voted the most liked ads of 2012, the meerkats are going to be axed from Compare the Market's advertising campaigns if you believe reports in the tabloid press.
They have already been replaced by cult comedian Robert Webb in the price comparison site’s latest TV commercials.
It is a bold move as the Peep Show actor is unlikely to have the same universal appeal as charming Aleksandr and co.
But it may be a smart tactic.
In an age when it is so easy for viewers to skip TV ads, giving the meerkats a breather means there is less chance of the public growing tired of them.
Ad agency VCCP have been inundated with questions about the meerkats’ whereabouts – and were awfully coy about whether they would be back when asked by The Drum.
So expect to see a Facebook campaign any minute now clamouring for their return.
The fact that people are already missing the meerkats, and the coverage Compare the Market has received in today's newspapers, tells you all you need to know about the advertising campaign’s success.
Taking the meerkats off our screens for a little while might just be a PR masterstroke.
Because Compare the Market can then sell itself as the company that listens to its customers when it inevitably brings them back 'by popular demand'.
As Aleksandr would say: simples.