By Harry McCracken | Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm
I’ve written before that Ask.com has been a search engine that’s skittered from one advertising message to another for years. Now it’s trying yet another approach: Its original one! Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land brought to my attention the entertaining fact that Ask’s UK version has gone back to its first name, Ask Jeeves, and has brought back P.G. Wodehouse’s famous manservant (or a rough approximation thereof) as its spokesmascot.
Here’s what you now get at uk.Ask.com:
Schwartz’s story quotes Ask.com as saying the sort of things you’d expect it to say: that this is a new-and-improved Jeeves (he’s computer-rendered!) representing a new-and-improved search engine, that Jeeves’ name recognition is extremely high in the UK, and that it has no plans to to bring him back in the states. All of which makes sense. But I kind of hope that he makes his return here, too–the original positioning of the site was the only one that was memorable and made intuitive sense, and I remain steadfast in the belief that it’s almost always a mistake to try and rename anything. If VW can bring back the Rabbit after all these years, there would be no shame in Jeeves getting his old gig back.
(Ask spokesman Nicholas Graham did tell Schwartz that going to AskJeeves.com gets you Ask.com with Jeeves hanging out on the home page–if I’d known that, I’d forgotten about it. Betcha the number of people who do that every day is much higher than zero.)
Also, is it just me, or does this latest version of Jeeves bear an uncanny resemblance to his ultimate boss, IAC chairman and CEO Barry Diller?