Summary:

InterActive Corp’s decision to kill Ask Jeeves’ iconic butler, a year after buying the search site in 2005, must rank as one of the weirdest…

imageInterActive Corp’s decision to kill Ask Jeeves’ iconic butler, a year after buying the search site in 2005, must rank as one of the weirdest decisions in brand marketing. So now the site is undoing that strategy and reverting to its original name – but only in the UK for now.

The original hand-drawn character, who first debuted in 1996, is being reimagined in 3D and will front a new “Jeeves Suggests” feature. Ask.com Europe MD Cesar Mascaraque told me the move is a response to research, conducted in England after Ask.co.uk’s October relaunch, found aided brand awareness at 72 percent for the current site – but 83 percent for the deceased butler. Jeeves’ resurrection is also designed to consolidate Ask’s focus on natural-language search questions, rather than queries alone.

Mascaraque declined to call Jeeves’ earlier retirement a mistake but is in little doubt: “When I told family I decided to leave Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and join Ask.com, I got a funny face and ‘who are they?’ It’s only when I say ‘the old Ask Jeeves’ that people say ‘Ahh, of course’, and they smile. After three years of investing heavily in the Ask.com brand and not at all in the Jeeves brand, still Ask Jeeves kicks ass in the UK. People miss the friendly touch that Jeeves brought to the site – our users have clearly told us they want him back.” More detail at our sister site paidContent:UK

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