Ask Jeeves Taps S.F. Office of TBWA\Chiat\Day

SAN FRANCISCO TBWA\Chiat\Day has landed Ask Jeeves’ advertising account following a review of 12 undisclosed contenders, the client confirmed.

The account win marks the first new business for the 35-person San Francisco shop since it lost the Levi’s account 16 months ago. The agency will handle print and online creative while Omnicom sibling OMD will be responsible for media.

Advertising had been in-house. Ask Jeeves’ last agency was Grey in San Francisco, which worked on a print campaign for the company in 2001.

“We chose TBWA/Chiat/Day because of their reputation and their approach to both creative development and their ability to disrupt or evolve the perception of a brand,” said Heather Staples, chief marketing officer of Ask Jeeves. “They also did work with, so they have experience with character development.”

In March, Ask Jeeves launched an outdoor campaign aimed at reminding users of the company’s strength as a basic search engine. Ads running through this week on bus panels, transit shelters and phone kiosks in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco use messages such as, “The first place you search will be the last place you look.” The work features the drawing of the Ask Jeeves butler and carries the tagline, “Search for it. Find it.”

The Emeryville, Calif.-based Internet company plans to continue to leverage its butler character, a client rep said. Ask Jeeves reported no ad expenditures last year, according to CMR; in 2001, the company spent $5 million on measured media, a fourth of what it spent in 2000.

The company’s financial situation played a part in its re-emphasis on advertising, Staples told Adweek last month. In January, the company said it was cash-flow positive and had achieved profitability for the first time in its seven-year history.

The marketing push is also being driven by the value of search engine marketing, which is proving to be a strong segment of the online ad market, Staples said. Ask Jeeves no longer serves banner or pop-up advertising on its site, instead concentrating advertising as premier or branded listings.

Ask Jeeves, which competes with other search engines like Google, is upgrading its site this week with an improved design and more efficient search tools, said Staples.