The Insider thinks it’s time for Moneyextra to think outside of the box and keeps an ear out for Aviva’s latest messages

Last week, I reported on Barbon’s trip to Madrid being swapped for Southampton – a “smelly and cloudy city, with a poor footballing team”. This sparked an emphatic defence from a number of Southampton-loving brokers. Here are a few extracts …

“Your perception of Southampton is incorrect. In recent days, the weather along the South Coast has been glorious and better than in parts of Spain …

“Southampton is a major cargo port, but neither the city nor the cargo smells …

“West Ham's problems and difficulties could not have been the responsibility of one man alone but be assured that Alan Pardew, given proper treatment and support, is doing a fine job for Southampton Football Club. Just putting the record straight!”

Ahem, I stand thoroughly corrected.

Leaving it too late for a screen test

What has happened to Richard Mason? Word reaches me that the former managing director of Moneyextra is now a non-executive director and living a quieter life. Richard once had big ambitions to use TV advertising to make Moneyextra the next shiny new aggregator. He once told me: “This is the next generation of aggregators. They will have to compete with us, not us with them.”

But it’s a year down the line. Perhaps Moneyextra now wants to be a niche player, which is all well and good. But if you want to be big, you have to spend big – and that means millions on TV advertising. If ever there was a brand awareness business, this is it. In the meantime, I'll be sitting in my armchair waiting for those adverts.

The sounds of success

Talking of advertising, I’m told that Aviva will be backing up its TV campaign featuring actor and comedian Paul Whitehouse as hairdresser Damien with a series of radio adverts.

This time, Damien will be encouraging businesses to talk to their broker for the best value cover. If you’re interested, keep your ear to the airwaves between now and next Saturday.

Digging deep for the Tories

While Insurance Times’s readers may have nailed their political colours to the mast by overwhelmingly backing the Conservative party at our recent hustings event, at least one has put a substantial sum of money where his mouth is. The Electoral Commission’s recent round-up of large political donors shows that Catlin chairman Stephen Catlin gave £25,000 to the Tory coffers in week two of the general election campaign. He’ll soon know whether it was money well-spent.

A voice without compare

It was a star-studded turnout at the 2010 Headline Money Awards, I hear. And that was only the room filled with PRs and journalists. However, it wasn’t the award winners that stole the show. My spies tell me that a rousing rendition of Nessun Dorma by none other than GoCompare ad star Gio Compario was the highlight of the evening. Apparently, he’s not as annoying as he seems to be on TV.

Absolutely Bibalous

We're just a few weeks away from Biba and I can reveal the conference’s most original exhibitor. Markel is basing its stand (E2) around the hit TV show Absolutely Fabulous. The comedy connection will be strengthened by the presence of a very familiar personality, who will be on hand to pose for photos. Meanwhile, guests will be able to enjoy a drop of Bollinger as they network. Sounds fabulous, sweetie darling!

Greece getaway

Top brass at Munich Re will be mopping their sweaty brows with relief this week. The German giant was exposed to the tune of €2.2bn (£1.9bn) against Greek debt, according to analysts at Société Générale. Luckily, Europe got together to bail out the cash-strapped country with a €110bn package. So, now that’s all over, hands up which insurers own Portugese, Italian or Spanish government bonds? IT