Confused.com took a very different tack with its most recent advertising. Brian Carruthers heard the new CMO of the price comparison website explain why it was necessary.
The only instrumental ever to have been banned from US radio has come a long way over the past 60 years. ‘Rumble’ was Link Wray’s first hit back in 1959, and gained a new lease of life in 1994 when Quentin Tarantino used the track in the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction. Since then it has cropped up frequently in other movies and also appeared in a number of ads.
Ford used it in a US ad for its Focus model back in 2017, for example, and now in the UK, Confused.com has become the latest brand to turn to the grungy classic, an inspiration for later generations of rockers and punks. It’s quite a shift from cuddly James Corden, the previous face of Confused.com, and the family-friendly 1980s soundtrack that accompanied him, to the hard-bitten character in the current ad, launched late last summer, and the sounds of the man who scared the parents of the 1950s.
In this case, however, the tune is not so much a threat as a release, kicking in as a driver escapes the clamour of choices in a dystopian city to embrace the freedom of the road.
New CMO Sam Day had this to say of the Corden ads: “I kept thinking there's something missing because I can't work out the role of the brand”. And that impression was borne out in research with consumers. “It plays out as soon as you hear people talking,” he told the recent Mediatel Future of Brands conference. “They would say that’s the Corden ad and that’s the Corden ad etc, but not a peep about Confused.com.”
So a new direction was needed, but not a new agency. “We have really good chemistry [with Karmarama],” he said. “They were willing to put aside their love of the Corden work and say, ‘This isn't working for you. So we're going to work out what's not working and work together on fixing it’.”
For Day, that meant avoiding taking on the current two “icons” of the price comparison website category – meerkats and opera singers. “I thought that I'd like to try and articulate the category and the product in a different way so that we get cut-through and standout.”
At bottom, all such sites do pretty much the same thing, so Day is instead seeking “to differentiate in terms of a focus on certain audiences – we're very much aligned to drivers because that’s where we came from”.
And he expects some more changes in the category in the not too distant future. “I get the feeling that all four of us [Confused,com, Comparethemarket.com, Moneysupermarket.com, GoCompare.com], are working on some propositions that will give us all a different lens on how things move forward.”
What everyone is agreed on, however, is that it’s a difficult, low-interest category, characterised by the often unwelcome nature of what it represents. “You have to maintain spontaneous awareness,” said Day. “You have to be there when someone's thinking, ‘oh god, I’ve got to do my car insurance’.”
That’s both tough to do and expensive to achieve and brand tracking metrics are closely monitored across the category. “If one is doing better than the other or spending higher, people see it; if your message isn't resonating as much as the last creative you will see it – and it happens very quickly,” he said.
TV is the primary driver of those metrics since reach is essential. But Confused.com has recently spent more on radio as well, specifically drive-time radio as it targets its core audience of drivers. “You're going to be listening and the relevance is going to be there.”
And if the unmistakable sound of Link Wray is helping make the connection to Confused.com, then Day can feel justified in giving the brand a harder edge.