The advert revolution

From meerkats to energy drinks to boy bands and Tipex. Adverts are making a comeback.

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Insurance briefs are probably not the most favoured among advertising creatives. Yet they are often the most effective.

Churchill’s nodding bulldog has become synonymous with the brand that will “help save you 50 per cent off your car insurance”.

But the doggie mascot is a pup compared with the real star of the insurance world, Mr Aleksandr Orlov.

Orlov’s autobiography, A Simples Life, topped the Sunday Times Christmas bestseller list last year and has spawned a generation who find nothing funnier than imitating the Russian meerkat’s accent.

But forget the TV success and book deals, it is the £33m dividend that BISL, the company that operates, just dished out that is the real proof of the pudding.

Last Wednesday, BISL’s parent company, the Budget Group of Companies, published its 2010/2011 results report. It announced a profit growth of 16 per cent, a pre-tax profit of £72m and a rise in the number of its customers to 3.9 million – from 2.7 million in 2008/2009.

And what was the first of the “important milestones which underpin this successful result” cited by BGL? You guessed it, the meerkat. “Expansion of’s ‘meerkat’ campaign, which has reinforced the business’s position as a leading player in the aggregator market and created a platform for a new strategy to reward loyal customers from July 2011.”

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Yeo Valley

As well as aristocratic Russian meerkats, we now have rapping farmers and a spoof boy band called The Churned. Yeo Valley, once a little known yoghurt brand from Somerset, last year captured the nation with its screenings of Yeo boyz featuring Lil’ Massey.

In doing so, the brand revolutionised sales and introduced rapping farmers to the world.

Created by BBH, the advert was first screened midway through a live X Factor show, arguably the most sought after TV slot for advertisers. It took up the entire ad break and became an overnight success. But it’s what came after that really made the difference says Tom Sillars, a creative at rival agency BMB.

“They only screened the advert a handful of times so people had to go to YouTube to share it with friends. Advertisers are finally starting to understand how to use YouTube.”

The advert had a mixed reception in the industry, however, and it’s rumoured that one creative director at a major ad agency was so horrified by the ad he sent a memo to each employee warning that if they were heard praising it they would be fired on the spot.

Yeo Valley bosses liked it though and are determined to repeat the success. So this year ITV viewers were treated to an ad for the new upcoming ad, as well as the ad itself:

And it doesn’t end there. Yeo has launched a Facebook karaoke campaign with the advert. Wannabe singers can visit the page, “like” the page (this is necessary in order to take part), and can then enter the online sing-a-long competition. Simply sing into your computer to enter and the winner is announced during the ad break of the X Factor final.

It’s the stuff dreams are made of.


But Yeo Valley isn’t the only brand to use music to drive sales. This summer, energy drink Lucozade teamed up with DJ Fresh and made a drum and bass record, music video and viral campaign that went, well, viral. In doing so, it reached number one and already has nine million hits YouTube. “The brief was to make a hit song, a music video, viral campaign, and get everybody sending each other the music video,” explains Sillars.

“You use TV to start it off, YouTube to spread it, and then it goes out into the field. It’s the holy grail of what the industry calls a full 360 campaign.

“When DJ Fresh plays a set now, he’s essentially advertising Lucozade for an hour”


But meerkats, DJs, boy bands and karaoke all pale into insignificance once you’ve seen watched A hunter shoots a bear! With almost 18 million hits, the interactive and ground breaking advert has become a firm favourite with ad professionals, stationery lovers and pretty much anybody who’s seen it.

You tell the hunter what to do to the bear.

And if that doesn’t make you want to go out and buy a bottle of Tipex then, quite frankly, nothing will.

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