Yahoo will spend more than US$100 million over the next 15 months to aggressively promote its brand and products globally, the company’s CEO, Carol Bartz, said on Tuesday.
The ad campaign’s goal is to drive home the message that Yahoo wants to be the center of people’s lives online. The marketing message centers around the word “you,” making a play on Yahoo’s iconic “Y” in phrases like “It starts with You” and “It’s You.”
Although Yahoo Web sites and online services already attract massive amounts of Web visitors, this campaign is necessary to make sure people are aware of recent enhancements to key products, like its home page, search engine and Webmail service.
Specifically, Yahoo wants to promote new social-networking, personalization and third-party integration features across several of its core services, which company executives feel make Yahoo an ideal central hub for people to manage their online experience.
In concept, this isn’t too far removed from Yahoo’s original mission when it was created by Jerry Yang and David Filo in the mid-1990s as a Web site directory, Bartz said at a press conference in New York City.
“This is a highly evolved [version of] the same concept. Now the Internet is even bigger and more scrambled eggs, and how can you organize your life and have it your way?” she said during the event, which was webcast.
“We’re just taking it farther than it’s been by having it really feel coordinated the way you want it … so that it feels like an integrated experience for you,” she added.
Launching on Monday in the U.S. and starting its rollout abroad on Oct. 5, this will be Yahoo’s first global brand campaign, said Elisa Steele, Yahoo’s chief marketing officer.
The campaign will stress what Yahoo considers its competitive strength: offering services to manage personal matters, like sharing photos and exchanging e-mails, as well as to stay informed and engaged when big news happens.
“It’s the combination of my world and the world that we look at as the intersection of Yahoo’s corporate position. It’s where we believe we can own and deliver a unique and differentiated experience in a way no one else can,” Steele said.
Bartz declined to comment about recent reports that Yahoo is looking to sell its Zimbra communication and collaboration suite for businesses, whose technology has been used to enhance Yahoo Mail.
In general, she said Yahoo will either sell or shut down any of its products or units that aren’t aligned with the company’s strategy of being the center of people’s Web experience.
The campaign seems to be in line with Bartz’s push since taking over as CEO in January to streamline and clarify Yahoo’s structure and focus.
In recent years, Yahoo has regularly delivered disappointing financial results and has been criticized for lacking a technology edge, failing to capitalize on many big opportunities like search, video and social networking.
Yahoo also starred in an 18-month corporate soap opera with Microsoft, as the latter tried unsuccessfully to acquire Yahoo before the companies struck a search advertising deal in July.
That deal, which is awaiting regulatory approval, calls for Microsoft’s Bing search engine to be the exclusive algorithmic search and paid search platform for Yahoo sites, and for Yahoo to sell premium search-advertising services for both companies.