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Yahoo Taps Celebrity Muscle for Ad Campaign

So maybe they're not what you'd call A-listers, but Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) has managed to put together a stout lineup of celebrities to boost its ambitious new marketing campaign.

As part of an ongoing effort to rebrand itself as the preeminent gateway to the Web, the Internet pioneer is hosting events today in London and New York, and tomorrow in Mumbai, to audition aspiring performers in search of the best "yodel."

For the uninitiated, a yodel, in Yahoo's parlance, is the company's howling celebration of its corporate moniker, done in the style familiar to the Swiss Alps. Think, "Ya-hoooooo."

"It is, after all, one of our most beloved and recognized assets," Brian Mullin, Yahoo's senior director of buzz marketing, wrote in the company's blog.

And the company has assembled a star-studded panel of celebrity coaches to shepherd along its casting call, including Jewel, LeAnn Rimes and American Idol's own Randy Jackson.

The winning yodeler is assured a spot in Yahoo's marketing campaign, as well as the opportunity to appear on the company's home page, one of the most-trafficked sites on the Web.

Yahoo's status as a hub for all things Web is a centerpiece of its new ad campaign.

Following the announcement of a blockbuster search-advertising partnership with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Yahoo has undertaken a major rebranding effort to remind the online world that it has been doing its level best to personalize the Web to its users' preferences.

The campaign, featuring taglines like, "The Internet is under new management: yours," turns a spotlight on a spate of redesigns Yahoo has undertaken in recent months to give a custom makeover to some of its most well-worn products, like search, e-mail and the home page.

All of that comes against the backdrop of the company's formidable traffic numbers, which place Yahoo's family of sites as the second or third-most visited destination on the Web, depending on which research firm's figures you consult.

Yahoo is billing the yodel contest as an extension of its message of personalization. In a sense, it keeps with the tradition of user-generated ads, where marketers tap devoted consumers to plug their brand in the hope that the message will carry a greater authenticity than the more conventional commercial.

Yahoo has pledged to donate up to $130,000 to charities of the winner's choosing.

For inspiration, Yahoo has offered aspiring yodelers this bravura performance from Jewel.