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Behind the Idea: The redemption of Gio Compario

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GoCompare is a brand that has become synonymous with a certain character that has proven polarising (to say the least) amongst British TV viewers. 

When Wynne Evans first burst onto the scene towards the end of 2009 as Gio Compario, nobody could have predicted just how much vitriol the character would endure and how iconic the role would become. 

This left Ed Redgrave & Dave Wigglesworth, senior creatives at Droga5 London, with a rather intimidating challenge ahead of them when they were tasked with reimagining Gio and the Go Compare brand for 2020. 

We caught up with Ed and Dave to ask them about what made them decide to give fresh life to the terrible tenor instead of putting him out to pasture.

What was the brief?

Go Compare’s brief was simple yet complex at the same time: reposition their brand, which is very well known (but not necessarily well-liked) and increase market share in one of the most crowded and competitive categories, where the market leader outspends them 4:1. Our challenge was to help them move away from a decade of some of the most polarising adverts ever made in the UK, trying to retain what made the brand famous, but shifting perceptions.

How did the initial conversations/pitch/brainstorming phase go?

One of the greatest challenges we faced was what to do with Gio Compario, GoCompare’s brand mascot since 2009. Some people love him, some hate him but, regardless of how you feel about him, it is indisputable that he is a valuable brand asset. Imbuing Gio with new meaning was our primary focus for the first phase of the campaign.  

Tell us about the concept and why it was the right choice?

No one likes to think about insurance but everyone needs to have it. This creates an interesting dichotomy within the sector and explains why, for so long, brands have resorted to bribing customers with cuddly toys and cinema tickets. But whilst boring, the things we insure against are important to us. And when accidents happen, they’re a big deal. So we set about unearthing real-life stories of people’s motoring misfortunes and used Gio as a crash test dummy, recreating these true claims and highlighting the importance of having the right insurance. We also loved the idea that everyone expected us to get rid of Gio, so doubling down and giving him two roles was funny to us. (The narrator at the start and end of the films is Wynne Evans, the actor who plays Gio).

What was the production process like, including the biggest challenge and how it was overcome?

The shoot took place in Lithuania and we covered both ‘Tree’ and ‘Deer’ in one go. Our biggest challenge was the car flip - this was extremely technical and we only had one shot at it, so the pressure was on. We also had to deal with a rogue deer that chewed through its rope and made a break for freedom. And a stunt driver of questionable driving talent who missed their mark quite substantially at one point, crashing into some cameras. But all was good, the crash out of frame actually made it into the final edit and the deer was recovered unharmed.

What’s the main message of the campaign and why is it important?

We wanted people to start taking car insurance seriously by showing that we ourselves are serious about it. For years the category has been infantilising the public, promoting price comparison on irrelevant things like cuddly toys, cinema tickets and free meals. When you’re driving, you never know what’s around the corner. And that is why you need to make sure you pick the right insurance, not necessarily the cheapest one, so you are covered when the unexpected happens.

Why will the final assets resonate with consumers?

Gio is no longer just a mouthpiece for the brand but a representation of the average Briton and crash test dummy to boot. Through using Gio in this way, we aim to make him more relatable to consumers whilst delivering a serious message from the GoCompare brand - when the worst happens, your insurance coverage really matters.

What’s the most interesting thing or unique fact about the campaign that will help it cut through?

In terms of cut-through, over and above the new direction for the TV commercials, the new identity we created for the brand used playful design to demonstrate that you can scream from a poster and still look good. 

How long did it take to make from inception to delivery?

We won the GoCompare business in March 2019, started working on the brief immediately and the first work went live at the end of August.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand now it’s out?

We hope to land the brand’s message, that the unexpected can and does happen and, if it happens to you, you need to ensure that you are covered. 

How satisfying is it to have released the campaign?

Of course, it was hugely satisfying to finally get the campaign out there, as it always is. What makes this one particularly special, though, was to take such an advertising icon as Gio and handle them in a totally new and unexpected way. But, of course, the job is far from over and there’s plenty more to come. So I’ll just say a huge thank you to all involved and watch this space for 2020.

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