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Zoopla ‘Crab World’ / 101

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With the difficulties facing property shoppers in the UK’s current housing climate mounting, particularly for cash-strapped first time buyers, it is enough to make some want to swerve the stress and give up on the whole idea of being a home-owner. However, Zoopla’s fun new campaign makes light of the house-buying process and goes some way in persuading us that investing in property is the way to go - via its comparison site of course.


With the help of creative agency 101, Zoopla enlisted the help of some very special friends for its 60-second ad, who also happen to be some of the most prolific home-movers. 101 creatives headed to Costa Rica to spend the week filming hermit crabs to star in the new work. The crabs are seen in the ad with miniature versions of human houses upon their shells – in case the ‘home’ analogy wasn’t evident – whilst various characters are heard in the voiceover to give the impression that the crabs are in discussion about purchasing properties.




Hermit crabs are much like human home-buyers in that they live in salvaged shells that once belonged to other creatures. The crabs will leave one shell behind if it finds another that is a better fit as the crab grows, in the same way that humans strive to find a more suitable home as their circumstances change over time. The interesting crustaceans also compete with others for their favoured shell and form shell-moving chains whereby, when one crab moves into a vacant shell, a queue of others are lined up behind it in descending size order, waiting their turn to move into the next available shell larger than their own. A hermit crab’s new shell must be the perfect fit; large enough to have room to retreat inside from prey, yet tight enough to hold on its back. In this sense, hermit crabs experience as much stress moving homes as humans do.


The ad, which will run in 10, 30 and 60-second formats, uses the challenges facing hermit crabs and humans alike in their home-moving process, including finding a safe neighbourhood, an easy commute and bargaining for extras included in the offered price, to position itself as the tool that will find a solution to all these problems. The brand is currently expanding to go beyond property comparison to provide contextual and location-based information including energy providers and removal companies. Zoopla’s latest push for its tools and services comes as rival company Rightmove announced the launch of its school checker offering last month.


For those concerned about how the crabs in the ad came to adorn the modified shells with miniature houses on top, Zoopla and 101 took extra care to ensure the crabs would take to them comfortably. Specialist model makers designed and produced the replicas by laser scanning the interior of the natural shells, 3D printing the imitations so that they were the correct weight, and painting them by hand. A total of 21 replica shells were made, each taking two days to produce. The filming of the ad was overseen by a chief marine biologist and the crabs were only handled by expert crab handlers whilst being shaded and hydrated regularly. A behind-the-scenes film on the ‘making of’ the ad is also available on Zoopla’s YouTube channel.


Zoopla’s #crabvert is both relatable and entertaining as well as throwing a much-needed element of fun into the stressful moving house process, one which will appeal to a wide range of potential buyers. The attention to detail put in to the creation of campaign, as opposed to adopting a CGI approach, also makes for an impressive piece of advertising and is sure to increase traffic to the company’s site. The work aired on ITV on Easter Monday and will run throughout the year supported by cinema, video-on-demand, outdoor and digital activity. Goodstuff handled media planning and buying for the campaign.