How much money should a brand spend on self-promotion? For Yahoo, it’s a nice, round number: $100 million.
This nine-figure marketing campaign will focus on ads in a variety of traditional and new media over the next 15 months in the ten countries where the company’s soon-to-be 600 million customers live.
For a new-media brand, Yahoo has been looking rather, well, geriatric lately next to top Internet searcher Google, not to mention whippersnappers Facebook and Twitter. Sure, Yahoo’s been around for almost 15 years, but Apple is more than twice as old and never fails to generate brand buzz.
Yahoo’s feisty chief executive, Carol Bartz, never shy about dropping an occasional f-bomb on Wall Street analysts or ripping former Yahoo CEOs on CNBC, feels the company is not getting the respect it deserves. Thus the hundred million being spent to do the job that the Google-biased media obviously can’t or won’t.
But if Yahoo is seeking reasons for its decline, it should just look at itself in the mirror – or put its own name into the search engine. Its failure to accept a Microsoft merger earlier this year is one of a number of moves criticized by many, even Bartz herself. Now, Yahoo is teaming up with Microsoft anyway, abandoning its original search function -- the service that founded company -- to adopt Microsoft's Bing.
It will be 2011 before the campaign concludes, but at least one prominent analyst, P.J. Lewis, thinks the hundred-mil should be spent on product, not marketing – otherwise, Yahoo will lose the race before even leaving the starting gate:
Okay, what is Yahoo’s inherent consumer value? Tell me and the marketplace why we need to use Yahoo. What is the value proposition? It’s nice to say you are "cool" but [you’ve] got to produce something of value…. Is Yahoo still relevant? The answer is NO. Did Yahoo just waste $100 Million? The answer is YES.
Is improving the actual Yahoo product the best way to improve the Yahoo brand, or is Bartz right, that the brand needs to generate buzz and awareness with an ad blitz to combat the positive press of its competition?