CAMPAIGNS: Internet - Very English answer to net queries

Client: Ask Jeeves UK

Client: Ask Jeeves UK



Campaign: Launch of Ask.co.uk



PRTeam: Joe Public Relations



Timescale: 20 Jan - 13 Mar



Budget: Undisclosed





The ’question and answer’ internet service Ask Jeeves (ask.com) has

proved to be a great success in the US. The brand has garnered a

reputation as a quick and easy means of asking questions on-line. Unlike

search engines, Ask Jeeves enables the user to key in questions in plain

English, rather than using key words. The user is then presented with a

series of possible answers, including links to other sites.



Ask Jeeves UK was set up in December 1999 in a deal between its US

parent and television groups Carlton Communications and Granada. It

launched on 28 February this year.





Objectives



To generate an awareness of the Ask.co.uk address, driving high levels

of traffic to the site upon its launch. To create an image of Ask Jeeves

as synonymous with the idea of service, through a targeted campaign in

the national and regional media. To support the advertising and other

marketing.





Strategy and Plan



The US version had already created a base of UK users so there was

established brand awareness on which to build.



The plan was to communicate the concept of fast and friendly service to

as broad a range of people as possible, both long-time users as well as

newcomers to the internet.



A pre-recorded radio package was produced with the Princess of Wales’

former butler, Paul Burrell, talking about the concept of butlering in

the UK, emphasising the concept of good service and relating it to the

ease with which Ask.co.uk can be used. This had a series of interviews

with Burrell and Ask.co.uk’s chief executive officer, Andrew Hart. In

the four days leading up to the launch a series of teaser cards - in the

form of visiting cards traditionally collected by family butlers - were

distributed to key press and 20,000 flyposters were strategically placed

in media centres and commuter terminals around the country.



On the day of the launch 50 butlers in tails and white gloves handed out

promotional cards on silver trays at London mainline stations.



Regional areas were targeted with photocalls at stations - butlers

ironing newspapers were photographed at Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds,

Birmingham, and Bristol. Butlers also visited Virgin and Liberty radio,

taking breakfast in for the morning crews. A late breakfast was served

to consumer and IT correspondents on all the nationals.



Companies were targeted via business print and broadcast media to

promote the service to potential advertisers.





Measurement and Evaluation



Coverage was achieved in four national newspapers - the Mirror, the

Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, and the Scotsman. The Paul Burrell

interview was run on 21 regional radio stations, and butlers serving

breakfast to presenters gained coverage on Virgin’s and Liberty’s

breakfast shows.



The story was covered by 16 regional newspapers, many running

photographs and details of questions frequently asked on the site.

Andrew Hart was interviewed by Sky News, CNBC, Bloomberg, Reuters and

Net-imperative.



The story ran on PA, Reuters, Telecomworldwide and the Industry

Standard.



Media Week awarded the campaign ’Stunt of the Week’.



Within the first week of its launch Ask.co.uk was answering half a

million questions a day. By 13 March it had received 40 million

hits.





Results



The campaign was a great success, with Ask.co.uk managing to become one

of the top ten most visited sites in the UK within a fortnight of its

launch. The statistics undoubtedly prove that the ’question and answer’

service is proving popular with the public. Paul Burrell’s participation

ensured a strong human interest angle and a radio-friendly way of making

the abstract concrete.



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