Yahoo. Loving them again…alone

Regulars to BRANDEblog know that I have had a love hate relationship with Yahoo since the days I registered (love) to the time when they lost our website and all the files on our ftp site. (big hate.)

But in California at the leadership conference, when I had a great convo with Carole Mahoney, I was feeling the love again. I might be the only one.
Back in September, Yahoo launched Start Wearing Purple” campaign.

The campaign, centered around the web portal Start Wearing Purple, includes features like “Purple Picks” – a daily series of links to things which the Yahoo team has deemed Purple-worthy. There’s also a special Flickr Account celebrating all things purple. And over at Purple Pranks, you can watch a few bizarre setups led by Improv Everywhere’s Charlie Todd. Highlights include an elevator full of people singing a song about their favorite color whenever a stranger walks in.


1. They’re encouraging people to Start Wearing Purple.
2.Yahoo! for Good, their community foundation, is disbursing grants to deserving people through a programme they call Purple Acts of Kindness.
3. They’ve set up the Yahoo! Purple Photo Booth on Flickr to celebrate images of all things purple.
4. They’re selling Yahoo! Purple T-shirts on the company web-site.
5. Through the Yahoo! Purple Pedals project, they have a camera on cycles that go around the city, which take a picture every 60 seconds, which in turn are tagged and uploaded to Flickr to document the bike’s journey.

Two months into the launch, the campaign seems to have failed. Comments around the net are cynical, sarcastic and disparaging:

  • A website created for the campaign features a video of various grungy-looking people, including Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, wearing purple and hollering.
  • Yahoo’s marketing department should spend all its time explaining to Internet users why they should use Yahoo instead of its competitors.
  • What’s tragic about that is that the brand Yahoo is trying to create isn’t particularly attractive. Look, it screams, we’re so desperate to be seen as kooky kids, we’re willing to hit our top executives in the face with rubber balls!

Perhaps the real target of the campaign is Yahoo’s own employees. Morale is in the dumpster at its Sunnyvale headquarters. “Bleeding purple,” Yahoo’s longtime catchphrase for displaying loyalty to the company, has come to refer to the endless exodus of employees. Wearing purple may boost the mood of longtime Yahoos. But it will hurt recruiting for those outside the cult. What adult wants to work at the company which still hasn’t figured out what it wants to be when it grows up?

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