BLG refuses to pull meerkats despite links with Russia

compareBLG-owned ComparetheMarket has dismissed calls to pull its ads featuring the long-running Russian meerkat Aleksandr Orlov – seemingly based on one of the country’s now under fire oligarchs – saying it will only ensure the ads do not clash with news bulletins reporting on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A brand spokesperson told The Telegraph: “The meerkats are fictional characters and not associated with Russia and the current situation. But we’re looking at our marketing to make sure we’re being sensitive and it doesn’t show up in inappropriate places.”

The ‘ComparetheMeerkat’ campaign, created by VCCP, has been running since 2009. Over the years, the character has been joined by Aleksandr’s assistant Sergei, their baby Oleg, Queasy Mongoose pub regular Vassily, Meerkovo School teacher Maiya, meerkat pup Bogdan and toy maker Yakov.

Havas Helia landed the CRM account for price-comparison site in 2019 following a competitive pitch.

The business has not been without controversy, however, and in 2020 the competition watchdog found it guilty of keeping home insurance costs artificially high, earning the site a £17.9m fine to boot.

The Competition & Markets Authority investigation was sparked by a market study into digital comparison tools and found that between December 2015 and December 2017, the site breached competition law by imposing wide “most favoured nation” clauses on providers of home insurance selling through its platform.

These clauses prohibited home insurers from offering lower prices on other comparison websites and protected ComparetheMarket from being undercut elsewhere. They also made it harder for ComparetheMarket’s rivals to expand and challenge the company’s already strong market position as other price comparison websites were restricted from beating it on price.

The CMA found that this was likely to have resulted in much higher insurance premiums for consumers. Perhaps unsurprisingly the BGL Group disagreed.

Last week,  British were warned to expect a barrage of retaliatory Russian cyber attacks, following Vladimir Putin’s orders to invade Ukraine, with the boss of Lloyds Banking Group insisting the business has been put on a “heightened alert”.

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