Grey Bows First Ask Jeeves Ads

Eight months after winning the $45 million Ask Jeeves account, Grey is dusting off the famous butler character for a new print campaign.

It’s the first work for Jeeves from the San Francisco agency since it grabbed the account from Euro RSCG/DSW Partners, Salt Lake City, in a review earlier this year. Copy in the ads suggests the Internet search engine can provide answers for people from all walks of life—including nuns, single women and dog lovers.

Agency president Kieran Hannon said the snooty-looking butler, created by DSW, is such a well-known character that it “would be crazy not to use him.”

“There is such instant recognition,” Hannon said. “What we also wanted to do was show Jeeves as a trusted adviser.”

In one ad, two nuns are striking a serious pose. The text reads: “You didn’t hear it from us, but there are times when we turn to him.” Copy below indicates that the nuns consult Ask Jeeves to find out how to tend their garden or purchase a school computer.

Another ad features an attractive woman, and reads: “I’d marry him in a heartbeat. Is he still available?” The object of her affection, of course, is Jeeves, who helps her manage stocks and find cheap airline tickets.

Each of the ads has the butler in the lower right corner and the tagline: “For the answers you need everyday, ask Jeeves at ask.com.”

Hannon said the butler was already seen in a somewhat comical light, and so the challenge was to expand his character.

“Humor wasn’t something we needed to create for this brand,” Hannon said. “We just needed to show Jeeves in everyday life.”

The client could not be reached for comment.

The copywriter at Grey was Brian Johnson; the art director was Jim Clattenburg.

DSW had the account for roughly 18 months. At the time of the shift to Grey, client officials said they had been pleased with DSW’s work but that a change was needed to accommodate Jeeves’ business-to-business strategy. In addition to its site for general Web users, the company owns a business-solutions division that licenses Jeeves technology for corporate use.

Ask Jeeves was founded by venture capitalists Garrett Gruener and David Warthen, who created the technology behind the site. The company launched in 1996 and is based in Emeryville, Calif.