Meerkat Madras

Big Beetle Bert. Big, Beetle, Bert?

Please tell me you hate it as much as I do. This is one of those defining moments of our age where there’s no middle ground and you have to pick a side – and pick the right side. Don’t be the Rudy Giuliani of the Meerkat Wars.

If you think it’s just a little harmless marketing, a campaign that’s taken on a life of it’s own, “if it bothers you that much just don’t buy it etc etc”, you are the embodiment of ‘I was just following orders’.

My enlightenment started with a simple semantic complaint echoing around my brain, the type of vigorous pedantry that keeps me just this side of the asylum. ‘Compare the Market’? Compare it with what? You’re comparing things within the market, surely, and yes I am very clever, thanks for noticing.

But before I could travel to Tunbridge Wells to write to someone in disgruntlement, they deployed these fucking meerkats. My image of the first ad to feature meerkats has them as roughly hewn puppets propelled about in Punch and Judy fashion, harmlessly, as a sort of joke because market, meerkat, haha yeah great. Or maybe it was footage of real meerkats with human voices dubbed over, I don’t know. At any rate I picture it far from the digitally anthropomorphised horror we see goofing about hilariously in every commercial break today.

There are three of them now, I think. The leader of the gang is Aleksandr, a Russian aristocrat who for some reason wants to flog you insurance. His autobiography on the website, oh yes, says “Despite being talent singer and actorkat, I follow in footsteps of my ancestors, and take over family business of compare meerkats.” He likes fencing, courtyard golf and hallway archery, and wears a smoking jacket like some hairy 21st century pasha who, one suspects, does not tarry for a lady’s consent.

Let’s forgive the xenophobic image of the dodgy Russki, because the next character is far more rounded: Sergei, some kind of scientist who presumably turns the knobs that gets you such great bargains on third party fire and theft. “What Sergei lack in social skill, he make up in understanding of the Computermabob. As well as being Head of IT, Sergei is also Head of My Tea. I like it milky.” I bet you do, paedo.

Not that there’s any evidence for that baseless accusation oh wait yes there is. Our third kat is Oleg, the ‘meerpup’. I know the world is moving on without me but I’m confident you still need a female meerkat to produce a meerpup, and females there are none in the world of Aleksandr and Sergei. The website contains vague allusions to Africa in Oleg’s past suggesting some kind of Angelina Jolie-style child-snatching.

And as to how many meerkats there are, my three was wishful thinking it turns out. Eight. We’re yet to be introduced to the not-at-all stereotypical character traits of Maiya (teacher), Bogdan (student), Ayana (student), Vassily (‘musickat’) or Yakov (toyshop owner hmmmmm).

Don’t worry though, you’ll get to know them all right, because the empire is spreading. If you’ve not been paying ample attention you might not realise Aleksandr is “handsome and success businesskat and have many claws in many pies”. Spending all of August in a neurological tempest I was sure the hospital TV couldn’t be telling me over and over that the famous and presumably extremely wealthy musikpop ensemble Little Mix were performing in a virtual concert organised by these fucking meerkats. But it’s quite true – the crowing achievement of Meerkat Music so far. What next, Ed Sheeran terrorising the meerkats’ hated enemy the jackals in a Russian zoo? Jackal scream at whiny twat and Aleksandr live in castle he buy with cash from many PPI!

Not content with cornering the market for Spotify simpletons, the meerkats have also branched out into film. Meerkat Movies offers 2 for 1 Odeon cinema tickets every Tuesday or Wednesday for a whole year when you buy a qualifying product*. That’s their asterisk, not mine. There’s nothing to explain the asterisk lower down the page, so my guess is what qualifies is deduced by AutoSergei, an inscrutable robotic clone of the faithful deputy that seems about as trustworthy as Robert Patrick dressed as a copper.

And what does everyone want with a good movie? Popcorn, sure to be delivered in minutes by the most bizarre of Aleksandr’s wheezes, Meerkat Meals. Tasty rewards on the menu with Meerkat Meals*. That asterisk again. Deliveroo must be shitting it.

How has this massive global takeover, industry by industry, been allowed to happen under our noses? Because we’re a nation of infants, that’s how, and the moment they revealed that there was cuddly toys involved, that was you lot sold.

I mean, think about it. They use cuddly toys to sell insurance – that’s one of their big things on adverts right now, buy insurance and get this free cuddly toy. And people must be going for it or we wouldn’t be about to face Meerkat Mining tearing opals from the outback, Meerkat Munitions reviving the cluster bombs to Yemen debate and Meerkat Minge sending shockwaves through the dating world.

You bloody idiots will fall for anything. It’s insurance, the biggest con since Greece played with Troy’s pony and the most boring thing you can spend money on that doesn’t get wiped against the human body somehow. And you’re getting drawn in by a computerised Russian mammal reading Big Beetle Bert and tossing off ‘simples’?

That said, the one mitigant in favour of Compare the Market is that their main competitor seems to be Money Supermarket, whose adverts are voiced by pathetic Brian Blessed tribute act Matt Berry. Between Berry, Count Arthur Strong and the social media fun police we’re edging ever closer to the black hole of comedy from which only McIntyre will escape. So maybe yeah, buy a fucking Meerkat Madras or something.

Be careful though, because these cuddly wee fellas aren’t quite as loveable as they seem. Just yesterday, Compare the Market were done to the tune of £17.9m by the Competition and Markets Authority for keeping home insurance costs artificially high. The company put out a strongly worded statement decrying the fine and will be “carefuls examine detail behind decision and considerings all option”, as a small toy mongoose spins wildly on a Fisher-Price Butterfly Dreams 3-in-1 Projection Mobile and AutoSergei reveals himself as the Gecko from Geico intentionally buggering up the Meerkat Maths.

I’m aware it’s a niche concern, that the world has bigger problems right now (at least until they roll out Meerkat Medicine). But if there’s one thing 2020 has taught me it’s that, if there’s no point worrying about the bigger things you can have no control over, it’s absolutely vital to get livid at silly shit like this.

Not that I can control the meerkats any. Meerkat Mindcontrol sees to that.

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