A future of expandable ideas

Anyone can have a brand idea, but not everyone can follow through on it. Brands are in a position like never before to connect and build relationships with consumers in an ever increasing variety of ways. Brands are continuing to come up with cutting-edge ideas and we are really starting to see these ideas expand beyond their origins. 

With less than eight weeks to go until Christmas, it is hard to escape a touch of the festive spirit. Shops are stocked up for the coming spending spree and predictions on what will be the top-selling Children’s toys for Christmas 2009 are starting to make the headlines – today the Toy Retailers Association will also announce their ‘Top 12 Toys for Christmas’ which in the past has certainly signified the start of the Christmas gifts season. 

Here at Limelight, the office was filled with amusement last week following the news that the sound of ‘Simples’ will be heard under thousands of Christmas trees this year with no other than Comparethemarket.com’s meerkat star Aleksandr Orlov set to get a toy makeover of his own. Exclusively going on sale in Harrods in early December, the talking toy has been created in response to demands from fans of the velvet-jacket loving star. Perhaps I am a child at heart, but what a genius idea, and I for one, would love to get my hands on one of the limited edition toys going on sale- admittedly if only to annoy everyone with Aleksandr’s hilarious catchphrases and distinctive squeaks!

Predictably the news has already sparked one or two negative comments from the Scrooge camp surrounding the limited availability of the toy along with a whole host of insights into the ideas behind the advertisement campaign itself. Of course, if Aleksandr was really answering the demands of his huge 500,000 fan base he wouldn’t be selling only 5000 toys, only in Harrods, and only from the 1st December, he’d make them far more widely available. But this is a wise meerkat who knows that his limited availability will make him increasingly desirable to consumers.  

The creation of the toy also follows news of the meerkat puppet’s own web show with Aleksandr lined up to interview a host of well-known figures and celebrities to be published across the websites. Elsewhere, insurance firm Churchill recently announced plans to introduce its famous nodding dog into 22 Christmas pantomimes this year with puppets being specially created and scripts being changed to include the dog’s catchphrases, ‘Oh yes’ and ‘Oh no’. Both examples of great advertising ideas being extended beyond their initial format and proof that brands in this space benefit from a memorable visual icon.

If Churchill the dog and Aleksandr the meerkat are anything to go by, it seems essential that for brands to get their message across the ideas need to be expandable in order to run successfully into the long term. Ultimately, the creation of the Aleksandr Orlov toy will be hugely beneficial for the Compare the Market brand with consumers already being advised to visit comparethemeerkat.com to be kept updated on when they will be available.

For comparethemeerkat.com, the concentrated brand idea was to be the price comparison site with personality and the amusing website is clear evidence of this. Given the increasing number of comparison sites it seems the arrival of Aleksandr as a toy is a smart move and an excellent attempt to position a memorable brand icon in the public’s mind – it worked for Churchill’s dog and esure’s mouse; I wonder if we’ll see more brands following suit into 2010.