Ask.com Ads: Confirmed as Creepy




You already know that Ask.com’s latest round of “I got what I was looking for” TV commercials are not what I was looking for. But I’m not the only one. In today’s Ad Report Card column on Slate, “Ads we hate,” featured the ad that I hate. First, a sample of the hate mail for Ask.com’s campaign:

In the new TV ads for the search engine Ask.com, a man (along with a chorus of women) sings that “he found just what he was looking for.” What he was looking for turns out to be “chicks with swords.” While it’s vaguely disturbing that Ask.com is celebrating in song that this guy successfully found masturbatory material online, I am truly creeped out by his smile a few seconds into the song. It looks like his search on Ask.com would actually be “how to cook and eat chicks with swords.”
—M.M.

Next, Seth Stevenson, the Slate columnist, responds:

Wow, he does look terrifyingly excited. I’m not sure this ad was the best move for a mainstream search engine that hopes to compete with Google. 1) It implies that the typical Ask.com user is a freaky fetish-porn perv. 2) The pitch is that Ask.com is the best way to locate hard-to-find things on the Web. But—correct me if I’m wrong—isn’t porn the one thing that’s not at all difficult to find on the Web?

Thanks, Seth. You said it!

  • http://www.forwardopportunities.com Website Enhancement

    I haven’t found Ask.com compelling in search and the ads aren’t going to pull in the audience they want.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    I still don’t understand why Ask doesn’t capitalize on its name more in its advertising. The word ask is so close to what we do when searching I would think they could easily brand themselves better by playing off the name more.

    All you have to do is Ask
    Just Ask
    Ask the search engine

    They write themselves.

  • http://bushidoblog.com.ar Bushido

    “for a mainstream search engine that hopes to compete with Google”

    I might be mistaken, but isn’t Ask.com already acquired by Google?

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Bushido – Ask.com is owned by IAC.

    Maybe they dont want to compete, maybe there’s money to be made in being the “freaky fetish-porn perv” search engine of choice. ;-)

  • http://www.alibiproductions.com Drew Stauffer

    We all know that “sex sells” but I think they missed the target with these ads.

  • http://www.marketingneophyte.com Nic Darling

    Perhaps we only think they missed the target because we aren’t part of the growing “chicks with swords” fetishist demographic. Has anyone checked that keyword phrase for popularity?

    Anyway, Andy makes a good point. Maybe they don’t want to compete directly. No one wants to challenge Goliath to a wrestling contest. Just pick up a few stones, maintain a safe distance and sling away. Or, better yet, run like hell and find a new place to stake your claim.

    That said, I agree. Those ads are creepy.

  • http://www.tupac-amaru.com Abstroose

    Ask.com promote with offline ads? Why do I miss these things?

    I feel so left out XD

  • http://www.soundclick.com/AMUC Lunarsight

    It’s product exposure. They’re definitely taking the “Quiznos” approach to advertising. Some of the early advertisements Quiznos unleashed upon us were downright disturbing [‘raised by wolves’], but they definitely got Quiznos name recognition, for better or worse.

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