Comment: Aviva doubters - like it or not, that's not how advertising works

Switched on advisers will leave the advertising to the experts and capitalise on a chance that comes along all too rarely

There is a rumour that a certain famous meerkat was a whisker away from never getting the chance to even appear on national television, never mind become the runaway success story that he is.

Apparently – so I’ve heard – debates went on through the night about whether or not using an aristocratic Russian member of the mongoose family was the best way of advertising a price comparison website in the UK.

Now look at him. Fluffy toys, books, downloads, websites – the comparethemarket meerkat is an undeniable success. But while some people love him, some people hate him.

That’s not the point though. Because it’s not Aleksandr’s cheeky grin that matters so much (although the creative, of course, is an absolutely fundamental part of the process). What matters is how well the mechanics of adland function in terms of achieving whatever marketing goal the client has set out.

Media buyers, media planners and marketeers work in a land that functions in terms of frequency, cost per thousand, impacts and idents. Not to mention OTS and TVRs.

It’s an incredibly sophisticated industry which is a world apart from “like it/don’t like it”.

Which brings me to Aviva’s latest TV ad campaign, launched last night during the return of ITV1’s hit drama Downton Abbey.

The insurer’s decision to build a drama within a drama is not particularly ground-breaking; nor is the content of the ads going to result in fan websites or people buying and selling Aviva-branded fluffy toys on eBay. That’s because it’s not meant to.

Advertisers that are the size and sophistication of Aviva obviously have their own goals and their own barometers of what works – and what doesn’t – in terms of achieving them.

Is nine million people - the viewing figures from last night - enough? Are they the right "type" of ratings? Only Aviva and its agencies can answer that.

And, of course, only Aviva knows its own views on the best way to use - and respond to the challenge of - social media.

Switched on financial advisers will understand all of this, leave the advertising to the marketing experts and capitalise on a chance that comes along all too rarely in protection.

Because what Aviva’s multi-million consumer spend is doing – at the very least – is arming advisers with conversation starters and door openers with clients who love to watch people descend into financial meltdown on television but don’t want to think it will happen to them. Simples.

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