The secret to raking in more than £60 million profit in today’s tough economic climate is ‘Simples’ — feature a cute, furry creature on adverts for an insurance comparison website.
Cheeky Aleksandr the meerkat, who fronts TV adverts for comparethemarket.com, has been credited with a massive surge in BGL’s profits.
The lovable Russian mammal, which displays horror at people mistaking his Compare the Meerkat website for that of the insurance giant, has captivated the nation.
Rising star Aleksandr has seen his ”simples” catchphrase take off in school playgrounds across Britain and comparethemeerkat.com – a real website – has received 3.6 million hits.
He also has more than 700,000 Facebook fans and 22,000 followers on Twitter.
Insurance firm BGL Group, owners of the website and the brains behind the ads, today revealed pretax profits of £62 million – up 16% on last year.
BGL Group chief executive Peter Winslow said much of the company’s success was down to computer-generated Aleksandr.
He said: ”We have performed extremely well this year in a challenging climate.
”Much of our success can be attributed to the BGL Group’s expertise in insurance distribution and our strengths in finding new ways to drive value.
”All of our business units performed well – but we do owe some credit to a certain entrepreneurial meerkat.”
The company’s turnover has rocketed since the meerkat, voiced by Brit actor Simon Greenall – Geordie Michael in the Alan Partridge hit – debuted on our screens in January 2009.
Its bumper profits, recorded from July 2009 to June 2010, saw an £8million increase on the previous 12 months.
Comparethemarket.com is now the fourth most visited insurance website after gaining 800,000 more customers thanks to Aleksandr’s promotion blitz.
The much-loved TV ad features Aleksandr Orlov tells the story of his family’s struggle to set up comparethemeerkat.com.
Aleksandr’s ancestors are seen crossing the Kalahari desert, dressed in Arab robes, sailing across seas and fighting in the mountains.
Another popular character, Aleksandr’s IT technician and tea-maker Sergei, is supposed to have designed the Mir(kat) Space Station.
The clever meerkat marketing campaign has also seen the launch of a mock movie-trailer, an iPhone application and the creation of an Aleksandr soft toy.
While thousands have also shown their support for Aleksandr on social networking sites and photo-sharing website Flickr has a popular gallery of his family pictures.
A record company has even expressed an interest in releasing a single featuring the popular meerkat.