I wrote earlier
about Ask’s guerrilla marketing campaign now
underway to raise awareness of the search engine in the UK. I’ve now talked with
Ask CEO Jim Lanzone, who explained more about how the campaign is designed to
unfold. He said it’s all meant in good fun, not to be negative about Google, but
rather to wake "sleep searchers" up to the choices they have in search. And I
have to agree — when you understand more about what’s planned, it is pretty
Ask is no stranger to television campaigns. The company has run them several
times before, including a
big one last
year. But it was looking for something new than a standard "better features"
"A better features pitch did work in the US. It worked great. But advertising
has to be sustained over time to make a brand difference. See our ad four times
and you’re not going to ‘switch’ to Ask," he said.
In particular, Ask wants to build up the idea that the "sleep search" choice
shouldn’t be how people select their search engines.
"Google dominates the media. We need another way around the mountain. It’s
been frustrating to continually launch critically-praised products, only to have
62 percent of UK users give little or no thought to which search engine they
use. We call that ‘sleep searching,’ and we want to wake them up," he explained.
Television ads will launch in the UK this week, done in a funny style where
it seems as if revolutionaries have broken into a regular TV program to demand
that people think about choice. Radio ads are also going, and I’ve already shown
examples of billboard-style ads in the London Underground. Ask is even doing
light displays on Westminster Abbey.
The TV ads will mostly be unbranded at first, to build buzz about the change
idea, then change after the first 10 days to promote Ask itself. The site itself
changes tonight with the Ask connection becoming apparent.
I think understanding that the intent is for the Ask brand to emerge helps
defuse a lot of what at first seems a negative attack on Google.
Some of those visiting the site now clearly have come away with the idea that
Ask is trying to wage some secret whispering campaign against Google. The fact
it’s tied into this TV campaign, a teaser campaign that was planned to change,
certainly eases the tone.