Now that we’re finally getting over the Cartoon Network scare, everyone is on the lookout for “deceptive” guerrilla marketing gone awry. Today’s candidate, via the Wall Street Journal, is Ask.com, the fourth-place search engine looking to put a dent in Google’s dominance. Ask’s U.K. agency, Fallon, came up with what strikes me as standard marketing jujitsu: play up Google’s dominance in a campaign centered on a fictitious “liberation movement” that’s rebelling against the “online information monopoly.” Crafty, even though it takes fairly broad artistic license in calling 50 percent market share a monopoly. According to the Journal, bloggers and others in the U.K. feel tricked by this campaign. OK, the ads don’t mention Ask, but they’re being run during commercial breaks, for crying out loud. And the Web site, which the Journal admits “does carry a small Ask.com logo,” includes a prominent quotation from Apostolos Gerasoulis, Ask’s chief techie. If I were duped by this, I wouldn’t admit it.
—Posted by Brian Morrissey