Alexandr Orlov was shot to fame in January 2009 when he started to appear on British TV commercials. The aristocratic meerkat started off as a fictitious furry character thought up by the VCCP advertising agency as a fun diversion for its comparethemarket.com client. The story is always the same, that Orlov is frustrated because people keep coming to his website (Compare The Meerkat), looking for car insurance, not meerkats, (they are supposed to go to Compare The Market) due to the fact that ‘Market’ sounds similar to ‘Meerkat’ in a Russian accent. The advert always ends with ‘Orlov’s catchphrase: ‘Simples’, pronounced ‘Seem-pels’.
Since then, his popularity grows very fast and Aleksandr has now taken on a life of his own. Orlov’s self-deprecating, clean humour has captured the imagination of the British public and given new meaning to a boring car insurance website. His facebook page lists over 700 thousand fans (and I am one of them!), his twitter account has over 22 thousand followers, and his website (which is a real website created by the advertising agency and does indeed allow visitors to compare meerkats), has had more than 3.6 million hits. And of course, he is in Wikipedia as well, in which it puts his occupation as AristoKat/Website Owner/Actor. He also has iphone application, called iSimples, where we can watch the TV ads, hear Alexandr talking by pressing specific buttons, and play with mongoose detector.
Recently another character, Sergei, appeared in his own ad. He is Aleksandr’s IT technician and tea-maker. Before working for Aleksandr, he used to be head of the principal design group for the Soviet Space Programme during the 1980s. He designed the Mir(kat) Space Station, and now works with Aleksandr and ‘Compare the Meerkat’. Sergei is first seen in the ad “Sergei”, and later guests in “Jacuzzi”, “Art Class” and all three of the ‘Orlov Family Trilogy’ advertisements. Sergei had been frequently mentioned on Aleksandr’s twitter and facebook accounts, one time was prior to being included in an advert, and Aleksandr even started a petition to add the word ‘Simples’ to the dictionary because Sergei didn’t approve of the word in a game of Scrabble.
Orlov released his “autobiography” on 28 October 2010, under the title “A Simples Life: The Life and Times of Aleksandr Orlov.The demand for his book is so great that he has generated more pre-order sales than those achieved by Tony Blair’s A Journey and more than double the pre-orders of Cheryl Cole, Russell Brand and Dannii Minogue for their recent releases.
Read the interview Orlov has done with The Telegraph UK:
How did you come up with comparethemeerkat.com?
It was the idea of my Papa Anton. It actually came to him in a dream after he had eaten a larger than normal plate of cheesy beetles.
What did you study at school?
I am graduate of the “Learn English Through Acupuncture” correspondence course. I am also qualify cravateer and fur stylist.
You have clearly embraced the digital age… has it been difficult?
No, it was piece of centipede cake. My ITkat, Sergei, used to work on Russian space program and has install state of art computermabob with extra large RAM jar and floppy box.
Your most amusing Facebook update?
What do termites eat for breakfast? Oakmeal! That killed at the Annual Leaders in Commeerce Roundtable this year.
How much time do you spend at your computer each day?
In morning I have to spend many hour replying to timewasters who are email me for cheap car insurance deal. The rest of day split between snacking and Tweeting about snacks.
I am current working on a new social media website, called Fritter. It is like Facebook and Twitter combine to let you waste time more efficiently.
Who do you most admire?
Celine Dion for produce some of best emoto-pop records in all time.
What are you most proud about?
I am proud of Orlov family museum. I have spent years collecting relic from my family’s past, like grub tin from their old home in the Kalahari and first cravat ever worn by an Orlov. If there was fire in mansion I do not know what I would send Sergei in to save first.
How many marriage proposals have you had?
Today? Under 10. Ever? Let us just say that if I had a rouble for every one, I would be able to add a third storey to my limousine.
If you were a character from a book, who would it be?
Knightkat. He is star of graphic novel I am working on. He run successful internet business by day but is crime fighting evil mongoose at night. It is base on true story.
Favourite piece of clothing?
My smoking jacket was made special for me by tailor in Makaryev. It will always have special place in my heart, mainly because it has special place for my tail.
Any piercings or tattoos?
My fur is too luscious and my tastes too sophisticate for that.
The most important thing your mother told you?
“Never go up onto the roof with your roller skates on.”
The Orlov Family Song. It tells of my family in medium of rousing marching jig and, latest recording feature vocal talents of me. If anyone from the Russian Eurovision Entry Committee is read, please check out for it on website.
And here are some of the advertisements: