It's a bold -- but not necessarily brilliant -- ad campaign. IAC/InterActiveCorp's (NASDAQ:IACI) launched an edgy marketing campaign in the United Kingdom last month, targeting top dog Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Urging Internet users to break from the tyranny, ads began appearing on London subway cars four weeks ago. "Stop the online information monopoly," went the ads, an "underground" campaign in more ways than one.

Television spots followed. They are intentionally grainy, trying to pass off as spontaneous pirate transmissions with no sound, placards accidentally held upside down, and ultimately promoting a website to incite a search engine revolution.

It's Che chic, but what if IAC threw a revolution and nobody came?

January searches in the U.K.

Google Sites


Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) Sites


Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Sites

7% Network


Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) Network


Others Sites


*Source: comScore Networks

It's easy to see why Ask is being so aggressive. When the market leader has a whopping 78% share of the market, you seem to have so much to gain and so little to lose in attacking the king of the cyber hill.

Naming names is a Madison Avenue staple.

  • The Whopper beat the Big Mac.
  • Take the Pepsi Challenge.
  • Four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum like Trident.

But what if four out of five dentists are choosing to go with Google? Calling out the masses as "information droids" may not be the best approach when online users are willfully selecting their engine of choice.

Yes, Apple (NASDAQ:APPL) turned heads with its famous 1984 campaign, but at least Apple was promoting a unique computing product with the introduction of its Macintosh computer. All Ask seems to be doing here is setting itself up as the Google antidote -- when Google seems to be working just fine. Besides, as brilliant as Apple and its products are, Apple still only commands a thin sliver of the market more than 23 years later.

The masses have spoken
There's been a public outcry over the ads, stemming from the underground campaign's roundabout tactics. Some folks feel that they were tricked into believing that a coup was really under way to expose Google as a mind controlling juggernaut. Take the "o no" out of Google's "do no evil" corporate mantra and you're left with "devil". Coincidence? Some would like to think that it isn't.

But the ads and the anti-corporate flavor of the dot-org website have played down as the messenger. Unsuspecting visitors to the site looking to earn their anti-Google berets, are instead walking into an intervention that they never really needed.

Yes, it was a brazen attempt to create a viral marketing campaign, but the market is too jaded for that these days. It will fall for the occasional Lonelygirl15 as scripted drama. It may even forgive the Canadian hair care specialist that brought us wigoutgirl. But it's not going to be force fed corporate propaganda in an anti-corporate propaganda wrapper.

They're letting Ask have it. There were seven daily journal entries posted during the campaign's first week on the website, and the user comments have been venomous. Ask has apparently gotten the hint -- there hasn't been a new journal entry posted since March 19 -- but the irate continue to trickle in with their displeasure over being duped.

Ask hit on a nerve. Folks are genuinely concerned with the abuse of information. Perhaps Google is a bit too powerful in the United Kingdom, but no legitimate revolution was birthed by a bogus campaign promising free t-shirts. Consumers do have a choice. Google isn't the top dog everywhere it goes. The company has actually been losing market share to leader (NASDAQ:BIDU) in China over the past two years.

So why pick a fight in disguise with a bully you can't beat when that time is better spent singing your own praises? Stateside,'s campaigns have been more transparent. Promoting the convenience of the thumbnail landing page graphics is a worthy selling point. A little more "hey" and a lot less "Che" is in order.

You can't topple Google, but you can nibble away at thicker slices of market share if you get the right words out, the right way. In reality, the only reason that Google is hogging up 78% of the lanes on the information superhighway is because it's the one with the better paved roads.

Drive carefully.

Yahoo! and Time Warner are  Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter picks. Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation, and is a Rule Breakers selection. Start your own portfolio revolution with a free 30-day trial subscription to any or all of the three newsletters.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a huge fan of Google and it would be his homepage if it weren't for taking up that piece of real estate. He is an information droid, apparently. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.