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Ask Jeeves Reaches Out to Agencies

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SAN FRANCISCO Web portal Ask Jeeves is talking to approximately six agencies about handling creative chores on its ad account, sources said.

The incumbent is Omnicom Group's TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco, which broke new ads for the client in February, returning the Oakland, Calif.-based company to TV after an absence of four years.

TBWA\C\D could not immediately be reached, and it was unclear if the shop is defending. Ask Jeeves officials did not return calls.

The client in recent years has spent about $5 million annually on ads, down from a high of $20 million in 2000, at the crest of the dot-com boom, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Sources said Ask Jeeves plans a major post-review relaunch, with paid media spending to exceed $30 million.

In February, Barry Diller's IAC paid $1.85 billion for Ask Jeeves, which it now looks to recast as the hub of its various Internet properties. Those also include Expedia, LendingTree and Match.com. (Diller has suggested Ask Jeeves would be renamed, with an emphasis placed on the site's "Ask" capabilities.)

The TBWA\C\D effort touted Ask Jeeves as an authoritative source of information and featured "experts" on various topics, such as off-key American Idol contestant William Hung. That work was tagged, "Ask Jeeves. And get what you're searching for."

—with Deanna Zammit