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Yahoo Launching $100M Global Branding Blitz

Yahoo It's You Campaign
Yahoo today unveiled plans to launch an ambitious global branding campaign, seeking to define itself as the center people's online lives.

The campaign, which carries the tagline "It's you," seeks to articulate a vision that's been percolating through various company initiatives over the past couple years, focusing on delivering a personalized Internet experience and defining Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) as the epicenter of people's online lives.

Speaking at an advertising conference this morning in New York, Yahoo executives said that the campaign is also intended speak to advertisers, positioning the company as at once "intensely personal" while reaching an audience of "massive scale."

Yahoo Chief Marketing Officer Elisa Steel
Elisa Steel, Yahoo's chief marketing officer
Source: Yahoo
"With that message you can see that we've branded it," Yahoo Chief Marketing Officer Elisa Steele told reporters. "We don't believe that anyone else can own that message in the marketplace."

The campaign's message of branding Yahoo as the personalized hub of the Web will also spotlight several product initiatives, such as the company's retooled home page and its search and mail services. Yahoo has been redesigning each of those products to customize the interface to users' preferences.

"The focus of the company is really to engage and personalize Yahoo for the users," CEO Carol Bartz said. "Advertisers follow consumers. If you want to talk in sort of a parlance of advertising, you always need to build circulation. By having more and more engaged users around the world, we're building circulation."

The multi-channel campaign, the largest marketing blitz in the company's history, is slated to launch in the United States next week, and the United Kingdom and India the following week. Over the next 15 months, Yahoo plans to spend more than $100 million exporting the "It's you" campaign to countries in every major region in the world.

"It's easily translatable and locally relevant in every country around the world," Steele said.

The multi-channel campaign will have a strong focus on digital, but Steele said Yahoo is buying across all major media.

Yahoo partnered with the agency Ogilvy to develop the creative content. Steele showed off some of the spots this morning, featuring colorful images of enthusiastic Yahoo users "showcasing their passion for the Internet" and splashed with taglines like, "The Internet is under new management: Yours"; and "There's a new master of the digital universe: You."

Bartz described the campaign as an emphatic reminder to consumers and advertisers that Yahoo has been one of the premier destinations on the Web for more than a decade.

For at least the past two years, the company has been the subject of widespread criticism and speculation about its core mission and ability to execute. In that time, Yahoo has weathered the drama of the deal talks with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) that cast a long shadow over the company for much of 2008, as well as a series of internal reorganizations, layoffs and executive departures.

But Bartz argued that for all the negative commentary, Yahoo has remained a financially healthy company with many of the leading content and communications services on the Web.

"I think what happened to Yahoo is people just decided to put a cloud over its head," she told reporters gathered at the NASDAQ offices in Times Square.

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz
Source: Yahoo
"I just want to transplant you guys outside of this cynicism," she said, reminding them that "30 miles outside of Silicon Valley and New York ... people love Yahoo."

She also downplayed concerns about the deal Yahoo struck with Microsoft in July, which would see the software giant take over the engineering platform underpinning Yahoo's search engine.

"I view the algorithmic side of search as how often are you crawling the Web how deep are you crawling the Web, and you much information are you gathering up," she said, explaining that Yahoo's focus is on enhancing the user experience that accompanies the technical side of search.

"I view the background of search much like an Intel chip," she continued. "The experience that HP wraps around those chips is different from the experience that Dell wraps around those chips."

Bartz also confirmed that Yahoo recently received a second request for information about the deal from antitrust authorities at the Justice Department, a move that she said was expected and should not alter the companies' expectation to close the transaction early next year.

"At this point we stand by our original prediction," she said.