Yahoo! Replaces Branding Agency

Yahoo announced on Wednesday a shakeup in its brand advertising team, with WPP’s Soho Square supplanting Havas’ Black Rocket, a Euro RSCG agency. The move severs nearly decade-old ties between Yahoo and Black Rocket.

Yahoo charged Soho Square with strategic planning, integrated online and offline campaigns, and media planning and buying for all of Yahoo’s U.S. properties. The New York-based WPP unit, which was formed to bid for the Yahoo business, will tap into the holding company’s stable of 90 agencies, including Oglivy & Mather Interactive, to carry out the work. San Francisco-based Black Rocket had worked with Yahoo for nine years.

The shakeup comes two months after Yahoo brought in Cammie Dunaway as chief marketing officer. Dunaway became an industry patron saint of sorts while at Frito-Lay for her decision in 2002 to shift money from Super Bowl television advertising to the Internet. The Interactive Advertising Bureau even lionized her in a recent ad campaign as a “superhero” executive for her faith in the online medium as an integral part of the media mix.

“Yahoo’s business has grown and evolved significantly in the past several years and similarly the needs of Yahoo’s brand have changed as well,” Dunaway said in a statement.

The company reportedly spent about $40 million on advertising last year.

In the past year, Yahoo has concentrated many of its marketing efforts around building awareness of key services the portal offers, from its HotJobs unit to its personals section. In May, Yahoo rolled out a wide-ranging Black Rocket-designed campaign to trumpet its new search capabilities.

Last week, the company began a new campaign that plays on its biggest brand attribute: the Yahoo yodel. The campaign will seek out an amateur yodeler to perform Yahoo’s signature tagline in an future TV commercial.

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