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Yahoo's $100 Million Brand Booster Brings Back Yodel

'It's You' Is New CEO Bartz's First Big Push and First Global Campaign for Web Portal

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As part of Yahoo's new "It's You" campaign, the web portal will spend more than $100 million over the next 18 months to plump up its brand.

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Yahoo's new effort will include TV, outdoor and internet spots created by Ogilvy & Mather.

The effort, which will be the first major branding push since Carol Bartz became CEO in January, will include TV, outdoor and internet work, courtesy Ogilvy & Mather. The work brings back the Yahoo yodel in a new form: performed by users such as school children and a church choir.

"It's You" reflects a key change to Yahoo's structure since Ms. Bartz arrived. The company has had a history of decentralization, so while there have been plenty of Yahoo branding campaigns in the past, "It's You" is the first executed on a global basis.

The goal is to boost Yahoo's user base and to increase the amount of time visitors spend with Yahoo properties, which were once dominant in the U.S. but now compete with social networks and applications such as Facebook and Twitter for attention.

"If you want to talk in the parlance of advertising, you always want to build your circulation," said Ms. Bartz.

Stiffer competition
In the U.S., Yahoo reached 138 million unique visitors in August, or 70% of the online population, according to Nielsen. Users spend an average of 3 hours and 14 minutes on Yahoo, which is well above Google, Microsoft and AOL, but well below Facebook, whose users spend 5 hours 46 minutes a month on the social network.

The last time Yahoo launched a major brand push, in 2007, Facebook was still a niche phenomenon and not the juggernaut it is today.

In the U.S. and Europe, where Yahoo is well-known, the ad spending will be geared toward defending the franchise -- and freshening a musty internet brand. Abroad, the brand faces a land grab for users, and the campaign aims to win over populations just coming online.

The campaign starts in the U.S. and launches in the U.K. and India later this month before expanding to Brazil, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea and Taiwan. "The intent of the campaign is to revitalize the brand and regain momentum around the world," said Senior VP Penny Baldwin, who joined Yahoo three months ago after serving as managing partner of WPP's Young & Rubicam.

For past and present Yahoo users, the campaign is about updating what CMO Elisa Steele believes is a 5-year-old image of the brand. Unlike past Yahoo campaigns, this one breaks no new ground; rather, it's an update of past iterations that emphasized the yodel, using Yahoo to get things done, and connecting with friends.

But Ms. Bartz argued that the campaign doesn't need to change anyone's mind about Yahoo.

"What happened to Yahoo is people decided to put a cloud over its head," Ms. Bartz said. "Now, if we're going to remove the cloud, they think there has to be something new and shiny. But when you get outside New York and Silicon Valley, everyone loves Yahoo."



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