Ask’s ‘Underground’ Marketing Strategy

The WSJ (sub req’d) has an interesting article, complete with video, that discusses the “controversial” anti-Google marketing campaign IAC/Ask has launched in the UK:

The goal of the campaign is to convince consumers that Google’s success — it is used for 75% of all Internet searches in the United Kingdom — is unhealthy because it limits the sources for getting information from the Internet.

The ads illustrate how newer, edgier marketing techniques can backfire. Much of the Ask.com campaign relies on hiding the fact that it is advertising and that it is promoting Ask.com. Some Internet users have reacted angrily, saying they’ve been duped.

The Fallon Worldwide agency, a unit of Publicis Groupe SA, based in Paris, created a tongue-in-cheek story about a pretend revolutionary movement mobilizing the British public to rebel against what it calls the “establishment” Google. Television and radio spots, outdoor ads, street stunts, and, of course, a Web site, are designed to look like messages from the underground movement. The campaign doesn’t include newspaper advertising, because that’s something a corporation would do, an Ask.com spokesman says.

I like this line: “The campaign doesn’t include newspaper advertising, because that’s something a corporation would do…”

Ask’s “non-disclosure creative” may have backfired for many but the campaign has struck a nerve and is interesting to me because it gets away from the fruitless “our algorithm is better” messaging that is destined to fail as a competitive tactic.

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Danny Sullivan has more, plus embedded video of the TV commercials (scroll).

About these ads

4 Responses to “Ask’s ‘Underground’ Marketing Strategy”

  1. Restraint and Regulation « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] Everyone saw the BusinessWeek cover story on Google potentially now being too powerful. The recent, controversial Ask ad campaign in the UK plays up that theme. And Danny Sullivan this morning has a related post about Google [...]

  2. Ask's New Ad Campaign: Will It Be Effective? « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] to be fascinated by Ask and its mix of innovative ideas (Ask X, Ask City) and guts (the “information underground“). I have often put myself in CEO Jim Lanzone’s position and tried to think how one [...]

  3. Will Ask.com’s Ad Campaign Be Effective? Says:

    [...] to be fascinated by Ask and its mix of innovative ideas (Ask X, Ask City) and guts (the “information underground“). I have often put myself in CEO Jim Lanzone’s position and tried to think how one [...]

  4. Ask.com: A Search Engine in Search of Character | Technologizer Says:

    [...] 2007 ad was part of a controversial UK guerilla marketing campaign that didn’t always mention Ask and which seemed to boil down to “Try us, we’re not [...]

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