Both ads are designed to sell car insurance… but who did it better? We put new TV ads by Churchill and GoCompare to the test by asking 250 UK consumers* what they thought of each.
But first, a little bit of background on why we selected the ads – both of the campaigns signal a change in direction for the insurance brands, and both feature their usual mascots doing things a little differently. Let’s check them out…
Churchill: “Chur-chill” by Engine
Churchie has gone high tech. In the new Churchill ad, Churchill’s 30-year-old ‘nodding dog’ mascot has been given a full CGI makeover. He’s also had a personality overhaul; no longer spouting the catchphrase, “Oh yes!”, the bulldog is now a super-cool, skateboard-riding hipster.
The campaign puts a clever spin on the brand’s name to create the slogan “Chur-chill,” showing Churchie’s new chilled-out attitude (and by extension, the ease and simplicity of Churchill’s insurance).
Paul Jordan from Engine, the creative agency behind the rebrand – which encompasses every element of the Churchill identity – told Campaign: “Churchill is one of the nation’s most-loved brands. But brand love can slip into over-familiarity if you’re not careful.
“Engine was determined that no-one should take Churchill for granted. So, we’ve given Churchie a complete makeover. Goodbye, nodding dog. Hello, lean, mean chill machine.”
GoCompare: “Tree” by Droga5
There are many of us that wish GoCompare would modernise its mascot; the often called ‘highly irritating’ opera singer Gio Compario. Well, it hasn’t happened yet… but the insurance comparison site has decided to show a more serious side to him.
The new campaign sees Gio driving a car to re-enact an accident that led to a real-life insurance claim. As he rounds a bend, Gio meets a fallen tree, sending his car into a full flip and landing dramatically on its roof. It’s enough to knock the stuffing out of Gio; instead of launching into his GoCompare song, he simply crawls from the wreckage.
In an interesting twist, the presenter of the ad, who talks us through the incident, is actually Wynne Evans, the Welsh tenor who plays Gio. The campaign has been created by Droga5, the agency that won the GoCompare account in March.
The ad has attracted quite a lot of attention – specifically in the form of nearly 170 complaints to The Advertising Standards Authority. While it might be distressing to some, the ad watchdog has announced it won’t be taking any action.
GoCompare hopes the campaign will make people sit up and take notice of its new offer – £250 free excess cover.
Lee Griffin, CEO and founder at GoCompare, told Little Black Book: “Our sector has entered a new life stage where shouting loudest is no longer enough, and we want to do more to help people get a fair deal on insurance cover that really works for them.”
Churchill vs GoCompare: the results
The Winner: Churchill
We asked people to rate the ads out of five for how much they liked them. Churchill came out on top with a weighted average score of 3.7 versus GoCompare’s 3.2.
While both ads were given four stars by 41% of people, Churchill surged ahead when it came to five-star votes. Nearly 26% of respondents rated the “Chur-chill” campaign five stars but only 9.6% gave GoCompare’s “Tree” ad the full five stars.
And when we look at people who really didn’t like the ads, GoCompare clocked up 14.5% one-star ratings, in comparison to Churchill’s 4%, showing a difference in strength of feeling towards the two campaigns.
How many stars would you give Churchill’s advert out of 5? (with 5 meaning you like it a lot and 1 meaning you really dislike it)
How many stars would you give GoCompare’s advert out of 5? (with 5 meaning you like it a lot and 1 meaning you really dislike it)
The winner: Churchill
We showed people a list of eight traits – four positive and four negative – and asked them to choose any they would use to describe the ad they’d just seen. The top trait chosen for both ads was ‘entertaining’ (57.8% thought this about Churchill and 38.2% about GoCompare).
But that’s where the similarity ends. When we look at which brand received the most positive sentiment overall, Churchill is the clear winner. It got nearly 74% more love than its rival (181.5% versus 104.5%).
The results are similarly stark when it comes to negative sentiment. Just 16% of people attributed negative traits to Churchill, while nearly three times as many did so to GoCompare (47.5%). Almost 19% of viewers thought GoCompare’s ad was ‘unpleasant’.
Which of the following words would you use to describe Churchill’s advert?
Which of the following words would you use to describe GoCompare’s advert?
What did you like most about Churchill’s advert?
What did you least like about Churchill’s advert?
What did you like most about GoCompare’s advert?
What did you least like about GoCompare’s advert?
The winner: Churchill
All publicity is good publicity, as they say. And controversy usually gets people talking. But it’s not necessarily true in the case of GoCompare’s car crash ad. Nearly 35% say they are either ‘unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ to share or discuss it. On the other hand, only 16% of people who viewed the Churchill ad say the same thing.
In fact, a significant 62.4% say they are either ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to discuss the skateboarding bulldog with their friends. A lesser 43.4% of people think they will bring up Gio Compario’s unfortunate accident.
How likely are you to share or discuss Churchill’s advert with your friends?
How likely are you to share or discuss GoCompare’s advert with your friends?
The winner: Churchill
They laughed, they cried, they grimaced… but are they more likely to buy car insurance through either of these providers after watching the ads? Both ads succeed in shifting the needle on purchase intent but Churchill is a few steps ahead. Nearly 49% of people say they are now either ‘slightly’ or ‘much more’ likely to shop with Churchill, versus the 44% who are ‘slightly’ or ‘much more’ likely to use GoCompare.
Where we do see a starker contrast is in the number of people less likely to buy with either brand. The GoCompare ad has certainly had an alienating effect – 12.4% are now ‘slightly’ or ‘much less’ likely to use the comparison site. Churchill’s ad only had a 4% negative impact on purchase intent.
After seeing this advert are you more or less likely to buy car insurance from Churchill?
After seeing this advert are you more or less likely to buy car insurance from GoCompare?
And the overall winner is… Churchill
Whatever you want to sell, you can’t go too wrong with cute animals. Churchie, in his new life-like form, well and truly stole the show (there were a few people who even thought he was real, and wondered how they trained him to ride a skateboard!). The sentiment towards Churchill’s rebrand was almost entirely ‘pawsitive’.
Judging by some people’s comments, GoCompare’s ad might have got a better result if it had actually killed Gio Comapario off. The ad wasn’t a total write-off though; lots of viewers took home the message that the brand is there for you when the unexpected happens.
Want to know what people think about your brand’s latest advertising campaign? Find out how in our Complete Guide to Creative Testing.
Complete guide to creative testing
An ad needs to be lots of things at once: it needs to stand out, resonate, and be memorable. Ticking all of these boxes is no easy feat. Here’s how.
* An exclusive, nationally representative sample of working age consumers was surveyed for each ad. The surveys were carried out in October 2019.
Senior Content Writer
Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 100m global consumers. She also likes cake.