Yahoo! just launched a new advertising campaign, Start Wearing Purple. I have to admit that, while I’m not normally swayed by “go visit this web page” advertising, I was very eager to check it out, and I wasn’t disappointed. Its a flash based web page that talks about the color that has been with Yahoo since is original foundation. It talks about the story behind the company, why purple is so important and lists ton of facts, such as which star wars character’s light saber was purple.
This advertising campaign is a very interesting. It is effective because it is fun, simple, energetic and personal. If you check out the commercial it is full of people ordinary people (who I assume work for Yahoo) singing along to an energetic song. Its new and exciting. Other Ad campaigns like Apple, or the new Microsoft Ads, are either getting redudent or simply unenergetic.
Now I am an Apple fan, but even I will admit that running the same Ad campaign for 3 years doesn’t always work. The jokes are new, but the premise is the same, and honestly, I would like to see them change the format a bit.
Yahoos Ad seems fresh, and I think it is a good idea for a good campaign, with a simple premise: start wearing purple. Now, they aren’t saying that everyone wearing purple is a Yahoo person, but that Yahoo people wear purple. Purple is a very powerful color. In ancient times Purple was a sign of royalty or divinity, due to the fact that it was one of the most expensive dies to find. Now, by quirk of fate, Yahoo ended up with Purple walls instead of Gray walls (you can read about this at their site).
The nobility and history of the color aside, the premise for the campaign is simple. It doesn’t take too much effort to wear purple. Not everyone has a purple shirt, so it is somewhat unique. Obtaining a purple shirt isn’t overly difficult either. Again, the notion is simple. People respond to simple.
Yahoo’s problem is that they aren’t keeping with the simple mentality of their campaign. They are moving too quickly, and bundling too much unrelated marketing with the simple, yet wonderful premise of wearing purple. Along with the launch of the start wearing purple campaign, they have started working “Purple Pedals”, a project which follows the life of a bike by taking geo tagged images and uploading them to flickr. Interesting concept, but what exactly does it have to do with purple? The bike is purple? That’s not enough for me. The connection is too weak.
Yahoo, of recent, has not been producing the greatest technology. Their search has fallen behind Google; their ad program was trumped by Google; their groups, once popular, need a major UI uplift. I’m not ready to give up on Yahoo yet, they have one weapon. They are extremely good at acquiring companies with amazing products. HotJobs is by far the most easy to use job website out there. It’s not overly cluttered, the searches make sense. Usability is key on that site, which is good because people hunting for jobs are normally either pretty stressed or hunting on their free time. Flickr is another powerful product. It’s a simple app for sharing photos. I use it, many of my friends use it, and I tend to log in from time to time to see what my friends are shooting. These are both powerful products that were developed outside of Yahoo and then brought in.
Yahoo needs to recognize what makes these products great, and pass it on to their internal developers. Their CEO just stepped down, and there are continued rumors of a Microsoft buyout, but even in that event, Yahoo needs a better plan on how to unite their products, and make things work. Now, simplicity for users does not mean simplicity for developers. They have their work cut out for them, but if they can see the great talent in these external products, I see no reason they can’t apply to their internal products as well.