A Better Ask Commercial (not saying much)

    June 21, 2007

Ask has a new television commercial. And, yep, it’s . . . disappointing. Yes, the Lisa makes incredible points about how they’re still objectifying the opposite sex and how googling ogling Kato Kaelin is just plain weird. And yes, their campaign since hiring CB+P has been disjointed and disappointing. But since she’s covered all that so well, I hardly have anything to add. So I’ll quote her:

I get that they’re trying to be funny and lighthearted and warm and fuzzy-inspiring, but they’re failing. They’re failing so bad that they’re insulting the people they’re supposed to be attracting. Instead of me becoming an outspoken brand evangelist telling you how great Ask.com is, I’m sitting here fuming over their ads. When do Ask.com users get to search for something intelligent? Do we always have to be idiots?

(And when can they find something that’s, y’know, useful?)

With that ringing endorsement, watch the commercial.

(video via Nathan Weinberg)

Musically, well… I really think they’re trying to evoke Gilbert and Sullivan here. You know, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore. (Oh, just pretend you know what I’m talking about. I’ll admit. I like opera—and I don’t mean the browser.) Pretty much the most astoundingly ingenious lyrics and lyrics+music combo in the English language.

But these commercials are not the very model of the modern major advertising campaign. They are not mindbending and clever. They’re more like mindnumbing and ho hum.

There, I said it. As much of a stir as the commercials have caused (even here on Marketing Pilgrim), they’re HO HUM. They draw plenty of attention to themselves, but not very much to Ask. Yeah, it’s there hovering in the background, and if you’re squinting during the last 5 seconds, you can even see their logo and slogan.

I admit that they have us, the search world, talking, but we already know all about Ask. The Lisa, Andy and I were in a private advanced screening of Ask 3D. (We like the interface. Really, we do.)

But we’re not who they want to—no, need to—make talk. Are these ads reaching the average person, or are they insulting them? Or are they making Ask out to be the soft porn/D-list celebrity search engine we’ve all been waiting for?

But here, just to make them feel good, a backhanded compliment: it’s better than chicks with swords.

And I simply must end with Gilbert and Sullivan. It seems they watched Ask’s commericals, too:

– To understand this, it is not necessary to think of anything at all.

– Let us think of nothing at all!