As far as advertising goes, the British insurance industry has a surprisingly whimsical bent. After all, what’s more banal and everyday than buying insurance?
The chief culprits in this surreal invasion are obviously Gocompare, whose jingle-happy opera singer Gio Compario irritated viewers across the land several years running.
Having mined both music trends and meta comedy, the brand has since moved onto a less grating but equally absurd premise. Meanwhile, Comparethemarket took a mispronunciation and spun it into an expanded universe to rival any Marvel franchise.
Competitors Moneysupermarket are keen not to be outdone on this score, and have upped their quirk appropriately. The brand’s latest campaign shows their hypothetical customers (usually slightly dorky men) driven to exuberant states of ‘epicness’ by big savings.
One finds bespectacled ‘Phil’ low-riding through Los Angeles sans vehicle, narrated by none other than Snoop Dogg. Another goes the exact opposite direction by having ‘Graham’ riding an elephant home from work. Between them, these two ads have accrued 10,000 shares altogether.
Compared to this, its latest ‘#EpicStrut’ has reached over 18,000 shares in the five days since it was released. So what’s so epic this time around?
Set to The Pussycat Dolls’ mid-2000s seminal hit ‘Don’t Cha’, the spot finds ‘Dave’ expressing his customer satisfaction in the sassiest way possible. Wearing a natty combo of suit, tie and denim hot pants, Dave’s strutting is so enthusiastic that it looks like he’s auditioning for the chorus line on the Beyoncé tour.
This is even before mentioning the prodigious heels he’s wearing, which really cap off the outfit. All in all, his lower half lends a nice uncanniness to the whole spot. In keeping with industry tradition, it’s funny, weird and has absolutely nothing to do with insurance.
Funny ads may be the bread and butter of British insurance companies, but adverts which focus too much on humour tend to underperform across national borders. Call it cultural difference or subjective taste, but research by Unruly demonstrates that spots which focus on universal triggers like warmth or happiness tend to outperform even the best punchline on the international stage.
Does this mean Moneysupermarket and Gocompare are barking up the wrong tree, by channelling Monty Python instead of more classically heartwarming fare?
In fact, while the domestic scope of these campaigns naturally limits their viral reach, ‘#EpicStrut’ arguably benefits from its broad, exclusively visual sense of humour. It’s more ‘Mr Bean’ than ‘The Office’ and its success can be partly attributed to that.
Sure, it looks like - and is even called - a TV ad, but there’s no reason why this ad cannot perform well online over the next few weeks. Not only is it amusing, it's also capable of leaving you open-mouthed in complete confusion over what you are actually witnessing.
We’ll have to wait and see whether the brand can continue its recent surge in share rates (or whether their rivals will respond by getting even sillier). For the moment, Moneysupermarket is showing it can strut it with the best of them.