Ask.com brings Jeeves back
Search engine Ask.com is relaunching yet again by bringing back its Jeeves character after three years' retirement.
The butler character is making a return to the brand in the UK because Ask.com said that research found consumers missed his "friendly, human touch".
However, Ask is eager to steal market share from the likes of Google, Yahoo! and MSN. Ask Jeeves's UK market share is 2%, according to Comscore -- a fall of 0.6% compared with last year; whereas Google dominates three-quarters of the market.
From this week, internet users will be able to reach Ask Jeeves via ask.com, ask.co.uk, askjeeves.com and askjeeves.co.uk.
The Jeeves character was shown the door in early 2006 when the company said it wanted to distance itself from perceptions of it as "that quirky little site where you ask questions".
The "new" Jeeves icon has been given a full makeover by Framestore -- a company that specialises in animation and visual effects in movies. Jeeves returns as a three-dimensional character, even wearing a suit styled by Savile Row tailors Gieves & Hawkes.
He will also have his own Twitter and Facebook pages, where he will post daily questions, images, videos and a diary.
Research conducted by YouGov found that the majority of respondents wanted Jeeves back as the face of the search engine. It also revealed that while 72% knew what Ask.com was, 83% knew the Ask Jeeves brand.
Jeeves's return will be publicised by a marketing campaign including TV, radio, press and online advertising in which he will answer questions relevant to content. For example, in a TV break after Channel 4's 'Hell's Kitchen', he will ask: "Why do onions make you cry?"
Cesar Mascaraque, Ask Jeeves Europe managing director, said: "As part of our strategy to provide a unique and differentiated search experience, we are thrilled to be welcoming Jeeves back in the UK.
"Since he has been gone, we have focused hard on improving the areas of the site we know our users care most about -- the speed, the look and the relevancy of the search results."
In November last year, Ask.com relaunched its service in an attempt to differentiate from its rivals by providing direct answers to user questions on a search results page, rather than just listing sites to click through to.
Ask Jeeves was originally created in 1997, named after the fictional butler from PG Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster novels. It came to the UK in 1999 as part of a joint venture between its US founders and Carlton Communications and Granada Media Group.
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