Is brand awareness always good for sales?

18th January 2010 | Posted in Uncategorized

In the UK we currently have two ad campaigns for insurance price comparison web sites that really stick in your mind.

One has been winning plaudits for originality and humour, while the other has won the title of most irritating ad of last year. Both have achieved high brand awareness, so does it matter whether the campaigns entertain or annoy? has hit on a delightful campaign that ran throughout last year. It features animated meerkats, led by Aleksandr Orlov, exhorting us to visit for car prices, rather than, which is really just for meerkats.

Sounds daft, but it’s well executed, rather sweet, and just slightly weird. It’s been a great hit, listed among the best campaigns of 2009. In fact Peta, the animal protection group, has awarded it Goody Award for Best Advert of the Year.

The Guardian newspaper says that by December 2009 Aleksandr the meerkat had more than 600,000 Facebook fans and 33,000 Twitter followers, while the site increased its market share of UK insurance comparison site visits by 76% between January and August, according to Hitwise.

On the other hand, Marketing magazine has come up with a list of the most irritating ads of 2009. Number one is, featuring an opera singer of sorts who pops up to interrupt conversations and insist that those thinking about motor insurance should head straight to his site.

According the Marketing article,’s head of marketing is unrepentant. He’s happy because its brand awareness has rocketed – the company’s own research says awareness of the web site has grown by 200% between August, when the campaign started, and January.

What the article doesn’t say is whether the awareness of a brand as an irritating ad campaign actually boosts sales.

Personally, I find the ad so annoying that I switch channels when it comes on. I certainly recognise the brand, but because the company sees fit to inundate me with such garbage, I wouldn’t ever visit its site, let alone buy a product through it. On the other hand, those meerkats are great, and I appreciate the thinking behind the campaign – and that in turn makes me look very kindly on the company behind it.

So I’m distinctly puzzled that a marketing manager thinks being annoying is good for the brand. Surely brand awareness has to be positive if you are aiming to increase revenue? And what’s the point of marketing if it doesn’t contribute to profit?

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