Anthropomorphism is the process of giving human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals and plants. Technology advancements have allowed marketers to use computer-generated imagery (CGI) to develop new and innovative campaigns that can form a warm connection between the advert and viewer.
Viewers seem to be a lot more receptive to an animal with human characteristics promoting a service or product than with human-beings. This is where anthropomorphic storytelling comes in. A prime example of how successful a marketing campaign involving anthropomorphic characters can be is Comparethemarket.com’s Russian meerkat family.
Compare the Meerkat marketing campaign launched on 5th January 2009 and is still going strong today. The television adverts feature Aleksandr Orlov, a CGI anthropomorphic Russian meerkat, with his family and friends. Comparethemarket.com were soon seeing a fantastic return on investment, with it’s site becoming the fourth most visited insurance website in the UK, up from 16th in 2008. Furthermore, after launching the advertising campaign the company’s sales doubled.
Along with the television adverts, the campaign has grown further through the years. In October 2010 Aleksandr Orlov released his own autobiography, much to the public’s excitement. The book reached second place on the Amazon UK website on its first week of sale. And in July 2011 the company began production of cuddly toys representing each of the meerkat characters. A cuddly toy was given to every customer who bought an insurance policy through their website. Receiving a cuddly Orlov and Family toy was seen as a quirky incentive to use Comparethemarket.com.
There are other companies too who have successfully included anthropomorphic storytelling in their marketing campaigns. Sofa retail chain Sofology, once Sofaworks, now have Neal the sloth who is the face of the company. Sofology also now offers a free cuddly Neal toy with every sofa purchase. From personal experience it really does work. We went into a local Sofology store just to see if we could get a Neal toy on its own. A couple of visits later we left with a sofa and two Neals!
A survey carried out by Promotional Products Week found that the UK is a nation of freebie hunters who will change brands for a free gift. The survey found that 3 in 10, of 1000 men and women asked, purposefully changed from their regular brand to receive a freebie. 34% said that they would be persuaded to change brands if there was a free cuddly toy on offer.
Is it because the toy is free that people are attracted to Comparethemarket.com or Sofology? I believe our affection and desire for these characters runs far beyond our need for a quick freebie. The cuddly toys are representations of animals that share the same human characteristics as us. Because they are anthropomorphic characters with personalities and emotions of their own, viewers can form their emotional connection’s with Neal and Aleksandr. They are like familiar, reoccurring friend’s.
Our affection is a result of clever storytelling. It gives the characters personality while moving them away from who they actually are: animals. Neal does not hang from a tree in any adverts, but instead he likes slouching on the sofa as we would at home in front of our own television sets. These human characteristic’s, effectively conveyed through the adverts, makes the viewers feel that they are more than just a CGI character and toy. They are relatable and more personable than a human could ever be.
Every successful marketing campaign starts with a great idea and a great story. If you want to discuss an idea with us or want some friendly creative advice we are just a phone call away. Get in touch with us to book a FREE consultation where you can discuss your business challenges and goals and how video can fit into your marketing plan.