Many times I have been briefed to create a ‘viral campaign’ but this is nonsense. How can you create a viral campaign? Just look at the word itself and it tells you something – definition: viral – adjective – a word that describes a noun.

So with the above in mind a campaign can ‘become a viral campaign’ but you can’t create a viral campaign.

Make sense? Maybe…

It’s a marketing persons dream to have a campaign they created go viral as there is no cheaper (or better!) way to spread the word of a new product/service/business. Call it tertiary endorsement gone mad.

So how have Compare the Market got it so right? Or have they?

Two articles I found while researching seem to talk about the Compare the Meerkat campaign both ways:

Negative – Social Media Soap Box
Positive – Joy Fleur

But surely the point of the whole campaign was not to simply create a ‘viral campaign’ but holistically it was to increase awareness and therefore chatter about the Compare The Market brand – but has it succeeded?

The campaign’s protagonist Aleksandr is available to follow via Facebook and Twitter and has a huge following but with out the relevant ‘online chatter’ this is all pretty meaningless.

Using Social Radar (our partner company) I looked at Compare The Market and the trend this had against Compare the Meerkat to see if there were any synergies between them – and there was.

When you review the Compare the Meerkat chatter trend it is clear to see the launch in January 2009 and the subsequent increase in chatter when it went online (viral!) in August.

Compare the Market

Compare that to the chatter around Compare the Market and you can see a clear similarity between the two…

Compare the Meerkat Chatter Trend

So it is very obvious that VCCP should take credit for creating a campaign that hit the brief on the head – drive awareness. But what we really need to know is did this effect the traffic and therefore sales?

Well the Times Online tell us that since January the campaign has driven the Compare the Market traffic up by 83 percent, the market share of, in terms of UK visits to the insurance category of each site, jumped by 76 per cent between January and August, according to Hitwise, shed 25.2 per cent, dropped 5 per cent and fell 31.8 per cent.

So in summary the campaign has worked, it’s driven a huge traffic volume, knocked the competitor sets by a huge amount so it only remains to be asked has this all translated through to a positive ROI or have the agency fees for Compare the Meerkat put pay to that…