Technology: Ask search engine brings back Jeeves

Early this year internet search engine decided to bring back Jeeves, the butler based on the character from the PG Wodehouse tales.

Celebrity appeal: Liz McClarnon at photocall
Celebrity appeal: Liz McClarnon at photocall

Campaign Jeeves is back!
PR team Slam PR and in-house
Timescale April 2009
Budget £190,000

The search engine was founded as Ask Jeeves in 1997, and when Jeeves left in 2006 it was rebranded as

The return of Jeeves coincided with a programme of improvements to the search engine, including the speed, the look and the relevancy of the search results.


  • To relaunch Jeeves and as
  • To create positive brand coverage
  • To increase search queries to the site.

Strategy and plan

The PR team carried out research among journalists and found many were fed up with reporting negative financial news about the gloomy economic climate.

The team decided Jeeves could help consumers by providing answers to questions about saving money. The theme for the campaign became 'how can I survive the credit crunch?' and related questions were developed for every day of the week-long launch campaign.

Slam set up a Facebook fan page and Twitter account for Jeeves, to be populated from the launch.

On the first day of launch, a report looking at what consumers were searching for online was released to the media. The research found people were searching for budget essentials and that BBC financial journalist Robert Peston had become a top search topic. Entitled From Peston to Primark, the report included a top ten search chart and quotes from a financial expert.

On the second day, Broadgate Circle in London was transformed into a restaurant giving away free lunches to visitors. Ex-Atomic Kitten singer and Celebrity Masterchef contestant Liz McClarnon held a photocall and gave interviews.

Other initiatives throughout the week included a holiday competition run in the Daily Express and Express online, with Jeeves' top tips for holidays. Model Danielle Bux, Gary Lineker's fiance, posed in Jeeves' suit for a photoshoot and articles were sold in giving women tips on looking good for less.

Budget-conscious family recipes were created by Mumsnet founder Rachel Forster and a survey looking at what help mums would like around the house - with results including a butler - was released to the media. A competition to win a butler for a day ran on the Men's Health website.

Measurement and evaluation

During launch week, the campaign secured more than 221 pieces of coverage. Every piece of coverage was branded and 99.5 per cent was positive in tone. Jeeves' Facebook page secured 620 fans in one week and his Twitter account collected 352 followers.


On launch day queries to the website increased by 20 per cent compared with the previous four Mondays. Queries have increased by a total of 20 per cent since the end of April this year.

Second Opinion: Olly Swanton, Founder, Way to Blue

The rebranding of an internet property is no easy sell and Slam's strategy of celebrity endorsement, experiential events and news agenda hi-jacking clearly achieved the desired result in terms of offline coverage. The extensive national coverage around the From Peston to Primark survey results shows this tried and tested tool can yield impressive results, as long as the brand remains integral to the story - something Slam achieved.

Given the nature of the client's product, online PR was quite rightly identified as key to the campaign, but the media touch points for the target audiences did not include any websites. A search using the key words 'Jeeves is Back' throws up two pages of news stories around the launch date, with a selection of good blogs, but no real depth of coverage beyond that. Celebrity-endorsed and event-based video was posted on Facebook and YouTube, but opportunities for editorial placement were missed.

The behind-the-scenes video of Danielle Bux's bra-less photoshoot has registered 3,686 views on YouTube but this is exactly the kind of asset that, if properly edited, could have secured home page coverage on a national newspaper site, where it would have garnered a greater number of views and maximised editorial endorsement. Such placements might also have reduced or negated the need for Slam to purchase advertising space on the Daily Mirror home page. This would have helped take the digital side of the campaign to the next level.

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