Yahoo! Campaigns to Boost its Brand

Yahoo will kick off an overarching brand campaign this week, following nearly two years of campaigns that have focused solely on its individual offerings rather than the brand.

The “Life Engine” campaign, which debuts on Thursday, is aimed at showcasing Yahoo’s multi-faceted nature and the benefits it offers to users. The company has grown significantly since the last brand campaign in February of 2002, most notably increasing its focus on search with the acquisitions of Inktomi and Overture.

“What we really did was look at the brand, and it is very much a different brand than it was several years ago, and the environment is different,” said Murray Gaylord, vice president of brand marketing at Yahoo. “We thought it was appropriate and made sense to go out with a campaign that reflects the Yahoo of today, which is much more substantive than it has been in recent years.”

The campaign comes as competition with fellow search player Google heats up. Google is said to be preparing for an initial public offering of stock, which would likely allow it to expand and pursue acquisitions. With last week’s announcement that it plans to launch a free email service, Google has more firmly established its intentions to play in the portal space. Such an environment makes Yahoo’s emphasis of its depth and breadth particularly well-timed.

The first elements of the integrated campaign, designed by agency of record Soho Square, are a series of 30-second television spots and online advertising executions. Both feature Yahoo users and their activities on the portal, pointing users to a specially-developed microsite which continues the themes and portrays the characters introduced in the ads.

“We really spent a lot of time taking a look at our brand and how people were using us, and their attitudes towards us,” said Gaylord. “What we found that really made the most sense, and what resonated, is that users are so engaged with this brand. We really wanted to have a campaign that is a celebration of our users.”

In “Rushmore/Great Wall,” a split screen juxtaposes an American boy describing his search for information on the Great Wall of China and an Asian girl speaking about Mount Rushmore and the presidents portrayed upon the famous landmark. In “Ashley/Gray” a third-grader named Ashley discusses how she used Yahoo Mail to solicit votes for her campaign for student government. On the other side of the screen, former California governor Gray Davis says he uses Yahoo to search for a new career. Each spot features the tagline: “Search Engine, Shopping Engine, Life Engine” and is capped off by Yahoo’s trademark yodel.

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