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April 20, 2009

Ask brings back Jeeves for UK push

It’s what the customers want, says search firm

By Steve Evans

Search site Ask.com is to reintroduce its butler Jeeves as part of a rebranding exercise in the UK, just three years after it ditched the PG Wodehouse-inspired character.

The character was a mascot for the search engine from its founding in 1996 to 2006, when the company ditched Jeeves following its acquisition by IAC.

At the time the company said: “When we launched it was very strong positioning, but the internet has moved on and consumers have moved on. They don’t understand the relevance of him any more: it’s time to move the brand on too.”

However recent research by the company revealed that 83% of UK consumers still identified the search engine by the Ask Jeeves name and the butler, suggesting that the 2006 rebranding failed.

This latest rebranding will include Facebook and Twitter accounts set up in the character’s name as well as a television advertising campaign. The Guardian reports that an advert asking why onions make people cry will run during ITV’s Hell’s Kitchen programme.

Managing director Cesar Mascaraque said: “Our users have emphatically told us that they find Jeeves enhances their search experience – adding character to what can otherwise be a very functional experience. They see Jeeves as approachable and trustworthy and, above all, helpful.”

Ask currently claims about 2% of web search traffic, well behind industry leader Google.

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