When Ask Jeeves launched in February 2000, it managed to pull off one of those now legendary equity-for-airtime deals with Carlton and Granada. Consequently, its media strategy tended to concentrate on ITV only and perhaps lacked any real focus.
However, the two broadcasters have since disposed of their interest in the search engine and, bankrolled by its Nasdaq-listed parent, Ask Jeeves has switched to a more integrated media strategy.
The current campaign, created by TBWA\London with media planning and buying through Media Planning Group, launched at the beginning of the month and, running into December, uses the whole gamut of media - TV, radio, print, outdoor and online.
The rationale behind the change in strategy came when Ask Jeeves realised it needed to differentiate itself from its rival search engines, most notably Google, and that its advertising should reflect this.
While Google, with its clinical simplicity, may be the engine of choice among people at work, Ask Jeeves was positioned as one for domestic and leisure use.
The creative builds on the "Should've asked Jeeves" line, focusing on avoiding a bad experience or situation caused by a particular choice or decision, made as a consequence of searching elsewhere.
In particular, it looks at searching for best theatre tickets, hassle-free shopping and finding a great holiday.
The campaign's launch and end dates were chosen to capitalise on the Christmas shopping market and also to raise awareness among people who may have bought or received a computer at Christmas.
MPG devised a media strategy, targeting ABC1 adults aged 18 to 45 and with a London and South- East bias, in a bid to get their attention on their way home from work before they surf online once home.
The campaign launched in a traditional format with a TV burst on ITV1 and ITV2, Channel 4, five and Sky channels to build cover.
"People who use Ask Jeeves tend to use it at home. We chose to lead with TV as it provides the most impactful message," Andrew Canter, the broadcast director at Media Planning Group, says.
The TV burst was supplemented with a three-week radio campaign with three ads ridiculing unscrupulous mortgage, clothing and holiday providers.
This part of the campaign was also London-centric and focused on Capital 95.8, Heart 106.2, Virgin, Southern, Ocean, Invicta and Essex FM.
The third part of the campaign comprises billboards at Network South East mainline railway stations and Underground stations, accompanied by ads in newspapers including the Evening Standard. Media was planned and bought by Posterscope.
Finally, the campaign will include a major yet-to-be-announced online segment through Profero, which will continue to highlight that the most relevant search can be obtained through Ask Jeeves.
This integrated media approach comes seven months after the ever-resourceful valet Jeeves was downgraded to become a cartoon character presence. At the time, this was seen as ridding Ask Jeeves of its "internet for dummies" label. The new strategy reflects this and the search engine is now trying to capitalise on the home search market. "It's all about contemporising the brand," Canter says.
Given that more than 86 per cent of internet sessions start with a visit to a search engine and more than 20 million searches are made in the UK each day, Ask Jeeves needed to do something different to steal share from Google.
Client: Ask Jeeves
Media: TV, print, outdoor and online
Agencies: TBWA\London, MPG, Profero and Posterscope
Media idea: Associate Ask Jeeves strongly with searching online in