"There's an increasing appetite to get knowledge beyond directory services," Bruce Stewart, the company's CEO, tells Marketing Daily. "We're married to the notion of [providing] technology plus the value of human search."
The service, which launches in the U.S. this week, calls upon people to send questions via a text message to 542542 (kgbkgb on the alphanumeric phone dial pad) for a fee. The questions are then answered by so-called "Secret Agents" who either find the answers through their own Internet searches or by using the company's archived "knowledge."
"There's lots of information out there, and we wanted to give people the best access to it," Stewart says.
Concurrent with the launch, the company has developed an advertising campaign intended to introduce the KGB brand to the U.S., and drive questions to the text service. The TV advertising, developed by agency Brooklyn Brothers in New York, is episodic in nature and introduces consumers to the so-called Knowledge Generation Bureau and the company's "Secret Agents."
In the first television spot, a prospective agent is drilled on a series of sample questions. "What's the capital of New Zealand? What's the 17th Fibonacci number? What was the name of Queen Elizabeth's husband?" asks the interviewer (played by former "Hunter" star Fred Dryer). The prospective agent answers the questions correctly without pause, and is hired.
In a second television spot, the new agent is introduced to her team, "Stats," who knows sports knowledge, "Trivia," "Mechanics" (and behind him, "Quantum Mechanics.") She gets a new partner, for whom she corrects the pronunciation of a Graple (it's gray-ple)--a cross between a grape and an apple. The end of the spot features a graphic with the words "Got a question?" and the service number.
"The first two spots are primarily brand-building," says Dean Harris, KGB's chief marketing officer. "But the spots you'll start seeing will have a much more direct call to action."
The television advertising, which will run on network, cable and satellite systems, carries the tagline, "We answer to you." The company is also planning online banner and video ads and a mobile component, Harris says.