Yahoo! Goes New School

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Yahoo! "Video Gallery"
The Yahoo! homepage has been completely redesigned, prompting the internet giant to go back to school—literally. To spread the word about the new-look site, agency Soho Square/OgilvyOne adopted a new-school approach by recruiting film school students to craft an entire advertising campaign around the idea that everybody's Yahoo! is changing. "The homepage was changed to be more personal and easier for people to use, and you could say we took the same approach with the advertising—make it more 'human' by inviting non-advertising professionals to help execute the work," says creative director Chris Curry. "We wanted a wide range of executions, from animation to motion graphics to film, so going to students was the best way to find all different types of filmmakers."

In a unique twist on the user-generated content craze, students from Parsons The New School of Design, San Francisco Art Institute, London Film Academy and Yale University were given a small degree of direction in the form of scripts and creative briefs, in an effort to help the young filmmakers stay on-message while not stifling their creativity. "The scripts weren't overly complex," says senior copywriter Bobby Hershfield. "We pretty much just briefed the students and let them go. The most exciting part of this project was not knowing what they would come back with. We encouraged them to push it, and we offered to be involved as much or as little as they wanted us to be. We saw a lot of work-in-progress, such as storyboards and animation tests, and gave feedback. We also helped with technical production issues, such as editing, talent negotiations and music rights. But if anything, we were more hands-off than we would be with traditional directors. We didn't attend a shoot. We never even met most of them face-to-face."

And while the filmmakers themselves may have been amateurs, the quality of the work—which can be viewed on Yahoo!'s video gallery page and on various sites around the web—had "professional" written all over it. "They did a great job," says Curry. "We expected some cool thinking, but some of the treatments really blew us away. And the whole process was an absolute blast. It's a safe bet we'll all be hearing about these students in the future." In the meantime, the next phase of the campaign calls for the Yahoo! community at large to add to the gallery by submitting their own homemade spots. "Yahoo! is extremely community-oriented, and it seemed only natural to invite those same users to be part of its advertising," says Curry.
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