in agency talks after Brands2Life split

Search engine is reviewing its PR as it looks to distance itself from its question-and-answer heritage.

A pitch process is in the early stages and follows an 'amicable' split with incumbent agency Brands2Life.

Ask Jeeves relaunched as at the end of February, retiring its well-known butler brand icon and introducing a more streamlined homepage.

Brands2Life worked on the relaunch, but European PR manager Lisa Meakin said the new direction for required a fresh
approach. Meakin is currently meeting agencies but without a set brief.

'I want agencies to show their expertise rather than me telling them specifically what I want. I am interested in hearing something different,' she said.

A formal tender of the account will follow in due course, but Meakin said it had not yet been decided whether a generalist agency or several specialists should be appointed.

'There are a lot of great specialist agencies out there so I am being open-minded,' she explained.

She added: 'The aim is to promote the message to the consumer on the street that has moved away from the question-and-
answer niche.'

Brands2Life has worked with the search engine since July 2003 on a mainly corporate and consumer brief (PRWeek, 23 July 2003).

The agency's co-founder, Giles Fraser, said: 'After a very successful relaunch we thought it a good time to review the relationship and go our separate ways.'

Nielson/NetRatings in  February ranked as the UK's fourth most popular search engine, behind Google, MSN and Yahoo!.

Meakin joined the company just over 18 months ago from PR agency Mantra (PRWeek, 22 October 2004).

'It will be a big job for any agency – but it will also be a fun account because there is a blank canvas and a broad remit,' she added.

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