Will Jeeves return, and do we want him to?

IAC-owned search engine Ask, perennially a rounding error in search-market share reports, is showing signs it will bring back its butler mascot. Jeeves is now back at the search engine in the U.K. IAC banished the fuddy-duddy butler in 2005, finding that he was a little too corny for the company to be taken seriously as a Google competitor. What followed were a series of disastrous marketing moves, including the ill-fated Crispin Porter + Bogusky campaign "The Algorithm" that culminated with the bizarre "Chicks with Swords" TV spot. For his part, Jeeves claims he's returned from his tomb because of public demand. The truth is, Jeeves was always associated with Ask's promise of answering people's questions directly rather than just spitting out 10 blue links. This is still a hot area—check out what Flickr founder Caterina Fake is doing with Hunch and the intriguing startup Aardvark—but Ask was never able to fulfill that promise. Maybe it should have spent more energy nailing that aspect than blaming its mascot.

—Posted by Brian Morrissey

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