IAR Bits and Bytes

Jeeves Plays Dress-Up

In a promotional effort that brings to mind Google’s signature logo changes for holidays and special occasions, Ask Jeeves is introducing “Sharp Dressed Jeeves” — an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the company’s butler mascot.

The promotion kicks off on this, the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, so Jeeves will be clad in a white jumpsuit like those worn by the King in his later years. Audio and text cues will accompany the wardrobe change.

“Just as Elvis is the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll, Jeeves is the Web’s most famous personality,” said Heather Staples, chief marketing officer of Ask Jeeves. “Because both celebrities bring forth the right elements of loyalty, intrigue and fun, ‘Elvis Jeeves’ is the logical personality to kick-off the Sharp-Dressed Jeeves campaign.”

Ask Jeeves will also work to build the Internet butler’s personality by creating a series of comic strips entitled “Just Curious.” Each strip will reveal Jeeves’ biography and personality. Users can access “Just Curious” by clicking on the character when he’s in his traditional butler attire. When he’s in his special get-ups, clicking will take viewers to a page explaining the attire.

Although Ask Jeeves execs didn’t reveal the upcoming wardrobe choices for the butler, they said each persona will reflect high profile activities, current events, or holidays.

MaxWorldwide to Delay Filing Quarterly Report

The Internet advertising firm formerly known as L90, MaxWorldwide, says it’s putting off filing its quarterly report for the three months ended June 30, 2002, because of problems discovered by its new auditor.

It’s another setback for MaxWorldwide, which has been trying to reinvent itself after an SEC investigation, a failed merger with eUniverse, and the purchase of DoubleClick’s North American media business. As a part of its efforts to start over, the company hired PricewaterhouseCoopers as an auditor, jettisoning Arthur Andersen.

Apparently, the new auditor took issue with the way certain research and development expenses were accounted for, and needs some time to sort things out. The filing delay jeopardizes MaxWorldwide’s listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange, which is an especially hard blow given that Nasdaq in June granted the company’s petition that it continue being listed.

Survey: Women Most Interested in SMS

Marketers looking to communicate with their customers via wireless text messaging shouldn’t just think of it as a route for reaching teenagers. In a national survey of tech-savvy consumers, women emerged as a driving force behind the growing popularity of two-way text messaging.

Eighty-seven percent of 30- to 40-year-old women surveyed in the study, commissioned by Verizon Wireless, said text messaging would help them improve personal and business communications.

The women in the survey were most intent on multitasking; 80 percent of those surveyed said they would find their phones more useful if they could send a message while talking to someone on the same phone.

What would tech-savvy people prefer to receive via SMS? E-mail ranks first in terms of information respondents would most like to receive on their phone (81 percent), followed by weather forecasts (52 percent), traffic reports (44 percent), and news updates (41 percent).

Text messaging is just beginning to catch on in the U.S., where analysts estimate the number of text messaging users will grow from 1.4 million last year to 15 million by 2004.

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