The Good and the Bad From Today’s PR in Scotland

by Laura Berry

Friday, July 30th, 2010

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Good pr bad prCuddly meerkat billionaire Aleksandr Orlov is showing us that PR is ‘simples’ with his latest annoyingly catchy T.V advert. 

The lovable rodent is the face of car insurance search engine Compare the Market.com latest and most successful series of adverts, which uses witty dialogue and a family and animal friendly theme to promote their service.

The latest advert ‘Streets of ambitiousness’ shows how Aleksandr’s ancestor, Papa Anton Orlov, had to use painted portraits to compare meerkats on the streets of Moscow, rather than using the ‘hi-technology computambobs’ that we use today.

This comical parody brilliantly shows how the search engine site is making it easier for people to search for car insurance and the focus on meerkats rather than cars, means that you almost forget you are watching a car insurance advert. It is only at the end when the familiar Compare the Market jingle and logo appears that it becomes apparent what the advert is really promoting.

An instant hit with fans the compare the meerkat adverts have provided big PR hits with stunts such as a ‘Do you want to compare the meerkat or compare the market?’ option on the company’s website, taking users to a page where they can compare meerkats.

Driving more and more traffic to the website using a gimmick such as this is a fantastic PR tactic.  The more eyes that view your website the more likely it is that they see something they like in what you have to offer and complete a purchase.

Traditional media is also another way of getting people to view your products and services and it seems that in their latest PR stunt Aleksandr and the other meerkats at Compare the Market HQ are fully aware of this.

By screening the world premiere of the advert to a family of meerkats at London Zoo, they have created a media buzz and public excitement for the new advert will be screened to us humans this coming Sunday – and of course the advert can be watched at www.comparethemarket.com, driving yet more traffic to the site.

Love him or hate him – you have to admit that Alexandr is one PR savvy meerkat!

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Now onto another love him or hate him figure – David Cameron.

Our very own Scott Douglas featured the government’s latest scheme the Big Society in this week’s Quiet News Day podcast.

The Big Society has been packaged by the coalition as a scheme to empower communities to redistribute the power from the elites in Whitehall to the man and woman on the street.   It aims to free up hundreds of millions of pounds to aid start up funding in a Big society Bank.

Although the community building scheme may look good on paper, it has come under fire in the media with the criticism that it is providing a different sugar coated agenda for the increasing number of funding cuts that we are seeing from our new government. 

Yet this criticism appears not to have reached the ears of David Cameron who has been reported to have used tax payer’s money to fund a trip for him and three of his colleagues to head to India.

The trip was designed to be a community building and research exercise, enabling our leaders to learn from the initiatives that take place in Indian communities.  But it has been undermined by the fact that the three party members were treated to stays in India’s most lavish hotels and were guests of the high commissioner’s residence in New Delhi.

I don’t know about you but I for can’t see how they are going to learn about community spirit by isolating themselves from the majority of India’s population.  In order to truly learn and take something of value back with them to England, they should have spent time living and working alongside the real communities of India – that would be a better justification of the money they have spent.

PR tactics have to be well thought out and backed up with a strategy that reflects the aims of the organisation.  Organisations cannot say that they will promote one thing and then undermine this by doing the opposite.  In order for Cameron’s Big Society to work he has to show as well as say that he believes in the scheme and it is then and only then that he will get the public support which he seeks.

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