IQ News: Ask Jeeves Manservant Front, Center in Ad Effort

Jeeves, the fictional at-your-service butler featured on the Emeryville, Calif.-based search engine Ask Jeeves, will get quite a workout as the star of the company’s new business-to-business marketing campaign, which launches tomorrow.
The pinstripe-suit-clad manservant will be depicted attending board meetings, joining work groups and participating in other business situations in an integrated effort that will appear in two major newspapers starting Tuesday. The ads will eventually roll out in a variety of publications, both in print and online.
The multimillion-dollar campaign also will involve some nontraditional marketing. For example, men in butler costumes will hand out free copies of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times–the newspapers carrying the Ask Jeeves B2B ads.
Ask Jeeves is best known as a search engine for consumers that can answer questions posed in ordinary English instead of the hyper-terse language usually required by search engines. Jeeves, the butler, is its central character, though unlike some avatars, he does not move or speak.
“When we launched three years ago, the key thing we had was our consumer site,” said David Hellier, vice president of marketing for Ask Jeeves. “We had an interesting technology and this incredible brand icon we could build from. Now we want to get the word out that we can enable other businesses to give the same experience to their customers that our visitors get.”
According to Hellier, a year ago the company had only two or three business customers using the Ask Jeeves technology, but now it has more than 80 business customers, including MSN,, HotBot and Lycos.
Ask Jeeves is offering businesses the opportunity to use either or both of its two unique search-oriented properties. One is the Popularity Search. When a visitor uses the Ask Jeeves search engine and a number of sites are located in response to a query, a patented algorithm looks at clickstreams across the Net. Based on the number of people who have visited each site, how long they stayed and where they came from, the search engine returns the most popular sites, ranked in order. A business could use the Popularity Search feature to help its customers conduct searches of the business’s Web site itself or to conduct Internet searches from the site.
The Jeeves Answers technology, the company’s other offering for businesses, makes it possible for users of a business’s Web site to ask questions in plain English. “This is deployed on for answering wedding-related questions,” Hellier said.
“Customers want to get to the most relevant information most quickly,” Hellier added. “We provide a human element and a better, more intuitive way for customers to get answers.” n