Microsoft Search

Project: Ms. Dewey

The world’s first anthropomorphized search engine was also one of the first viral megahits.

Before Bing (and before Siri), Microsoft Search was struggling. Traditional campaigns weren’t working. So Microsoft loosened the reins: Anything goes. Just make it engaging, they said, and weave in search.

Six months—and a few hundred ideas later—Ms. Dewey was born. A brilliant, sassy, virtual librarian, backed by 600 video clips and advanced artificial intelligence. She knew everything, it seemed, delivering relevant, outrageous content on the fly.

This was entirely a social content play. Not a penny was spent on ads or search. Daily traffic to the site soon outpaced VW.com, the Campaign for Real Beauty, and then even Yahoo and Google. IT directors were begging employees to “quit” her, as demand bogged down company T1 lines.

All told, more than 50 million people visited the site. Thousands of blogs and press stories were generated. And Microsoft Search was given a Second Act.

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