Two of my recent articles, Brand mascots and Beastly branding, focused on using fictional characters (most often animals) as brand ambassadors. To summarize, some brands have been successful using fictional human or animal characters as their brand mascots with the latter helping create powerful emotional links between brands and consumers.
One of the popular recent campaigns involving beastly brand mascots has been unraveling in the UK where www.comparethemarket.com (an insurance comparison site) has launched a brand promotional ad campaign built around a figure of a Russian-speaking meerkat Alexandr Orlov. ((I have discovered the story about Orlov in an article about Antropomorphic marketing by Stephen Brown in Marketing Review, Fall 2010, Vol. 10, issue 3, pp. 209-224 ))
Somewhat cheesy and absurd, the supposedly Russian meerkat Orlov (by the way, his accent does NOT sound Russian) has nonetheless managed to attract a huge amount of attention across the UK. As a result of the meerkat campaign, which included the launch of the site www.comparethemeerkat.com, as well as TV ads, sales on comparethemarket.com have skyrocketed.
As part of the meerkat-campaign, www.comparethemarket.com has also published a fictional autobiography of Orlov, The Simples Life, which has already sold more than 130 000 copies!