Yahoo on Tuesday introduced a new $100 million dollar global marketing campaign to promote the company brand by focusing on "You," whose last starring role was on the cover of Time Magazine in 2006 as the "Person of the Year."
Yahoo, said CEO Carol Bartz at press conference in New York, "really is committed to being the center of people's lives online."
The ad campaign begins on September 28 in the US and on October 5 in the UK and India, and will last for at least 15 months. The company will also run ads in other countries, including Brazil, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, and Taiwan.
If nothing else, Yahoo's ad plans should help counter fears of declining online ad spending.
The "You" campaign, or "Y!ou" as Yahoo writes it, features ad copy like "The Internet is under new management. Yours." And "The Internet now has a personality. Yours." It aims to underscore the shift toward socially-oriented computing services that Google, Microsoft, Yahoo have made over the past few years in response to the popularity of Facebook and MySpace.
Google for example re-branded its personalized homepage "iGoogle" in 2007 and has been busily adding social infrastructure to its services since then.
Yahoo nonetheless believes "delivering personally relevant experiences" will be the basis for its business going forward. "It's where we believe we can own and deliver a unique differentiated experience in a way that no one else can," said Yahoo EVP and CMO Elisa Steele at the media event.
The branding campaign arrives following Yahoo's revitalization of its homepage, Search, Mail, Messenger, and mobile products. The revamped Yahoo Search aims to make search more personally relevant through better search result categorization, page design improvements, SearchPad annotation, and query assistance.
At the press conference, Bartz didn't directly address a question about whether it was shopping its Zimbra e-mail service around, but acknowledged that the company would consider selling assets where it made sense. She also stressed that Yahoo and Google are different companies.
Wall Street, meanwhile, appears to be underwhelmed by Yahoo's new marketing plans: The company's stock was down about 1% halfway through the trading day.
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