Campaign hit

Comparethemarket adverts pulled during TV news

Aleksandr Orlov portrays a wealthy Russian in the adverts

Price comparison website Comparethemarket has withdrawn its adverts during TV news over the controversy around Russian oligarchs.

The adverts feature the meerkats Aleksandr Orlov and Sergei speaking with Russian accents and living in a London mansion similar to those being targeted by those who object to Russian money flowing through the city.

Peterborough-based financial services firm BGL, which owns the company, spent an estimated £90m on the campaign in the UK last year, about two-thirds on television.

A spokesman for the company said: “We are continually reviewing our advertising to ensure we’re being sensitive to the current situation.”

The meerkat ads have been running since 2009 and have developed into a merchandising industry. Even the catchphase “simples” made it into the Oxford English Dictionary.

The meerkat campaign was first created by the advertising agency VCCP in London. Voiced by Simon Greenall, best known as Michael the Geordie handyman from the comedy series I’m Alan Partridge, was voted the nation’s favourite TV advert in 2016.

However, public opinion is sensitive to wider issues and companies are aware that they tread a dangerous path if they are seen to make light of serious situations.

There has been a social media campaign for UK supermarkets to show their support by renaming chicken kievs “chicken kyivs”, using the preferred Ukrainian spelling of its capital.

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