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February 15, 2006

Ask Boots Beloved Butler

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First they put him on a diet, then they gave him a tan and late last week they gave him the boot. It’s a cruel, cruel world for everyone’s favorite butler as Ask Jeeves has decided to go along with the firing of their beloved mascot that was originally announced in September.

Ask kept Jeeves on the payroll as they tried to gauge consumer response. We don’t know what cold, heartless demographic they consulted, but those of us with hearts are saddened by his wrongful termination. (More on that later.)

But I digress.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs investor conference last week, InterActiveCorp (IAC) CEO Barry Diller announced that his company intends to officially drop Jeeves as their mascot and shorten the search site’s name to Ask or Ask.com beginning March 1.

Company officials hope axing Jeeves will help re-establish the Ask brand as the company prepares to forge their way into international markets.

Rachel Johnson, Ask’s Vice President:

"The broader rebranding of Ask comes as all search engines include all manner of other services alongside the basic finding of websites for users.
The initial decision to axe Jeeves was greeted with dismay by many and a campaign to save the valet briefly flared into life."

But not even that could save him.

Diller feared Jeeves reflected the early years of Ask Jeeves, not the upgraded, revamped site they are now trying to portray. Diller said:

"This research shows use of the character as the prominent symbol of the brand may inhibit people from recognizing that our search engine has changed,” the company said in a statement."

But the firing wasn’t a complete shock to the butler. Jeeves had an inkling his days were numbered after he was forced to undergo a ‘makeover’ last December to make himself appear hipper and more youthful. He was mandated to go on a strict diet and given a tan.

We are devastated by the decision to rid Jeeves of his rightful position (on the left-hand side of the Ask search box). Ask without Jeeves is like search engine optimization without keywords; a computer without dual monitors; a workweek with no Fridays. We will deeply miss his sharp suits, his friendly smile, and his English charm.

You will always be our favorite iconic butler. Barry Diller just never got you the way we did.

(Hat-tip to the BBC)

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