Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is tired of the press trying to dictate what Yahoo should and shouldn't do with its business. But the company's new $100 million ad campaign, which was met with much derision from the press when it launched last month, does not appear to be doing well with consumers.

In an interview with The New York Times this week, Bartz explained her views on feedback:

"I have the puppy theory. When the puppy pees on the carpet, you say something right then because you don’t say six months later, 'Remember that day, January 12th, when you peed on the carpet?' That doesn’t make any sense. 'This is what’s on my mind. This is quick feedback.' And then I’m on to the next thing."

Is it time to admit that Yahoo peed the carpet?

The company launched its new ad campaign in September, making it all about "Y!ou" and trying to drive traffic back to its portal and search engine. But unlike Microsoft's ad blitz for Bing, Yahoo isn't really advertising new technology so much as reminding consumers that it exists. Press coverage of the campaign slammed the company for spending so much on ads that were heavy on neon, light on content, and failed to explain what new products were being highlighted.

I wrote about it here and my colleague Patricio Robles explained: "Spending tens of millions (or more) on advertising when you have nothing new to advertise is more likely a sign of desperation than it is a sign of confidence."

At the time, Bartz complained about the press giving her company a hard time. She told AllThingsDigital that the media doesn't get her company, but the rest of the country does: "I travel a lot and everyone loves it."

But now, a month into this big spending campaign, the first results are showing that consumers aren't taking to it either.

A company called YouGov does daily brand surveys of 5,000 people and their response on Yahoo isn't very positive. They asked consumers about Yahoo: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?"

Out of a possible 100 point rating, Yahoo received a 25.5 on October 12th. That's down from a 35.4 before the launch of Yahoo's "It's Y!ou" campaign on September 28th.

A YouGov spokesperson told SiliconAlleyInsider:

"The score's drop comes after Yahoo steadily built its buzz score from mid-May through most of September. On May 13th, Yahoo was at 25.4, which is where it is right now. This is definitely the biggest buzz score drop Yahoo has taken all year."

While awaiting regulatory approval on its search deal with Microsoft, Yahoo is trying to remind users of its benefits as a source of information, communications and socializing. But considering that Yahoo effectively signed off its search business to Microsoft, these ads were to playa considerable role in driving consumers to Yahoo's other products. If that's not working, Yahoo needs to go on to the next thing.

Image: Flickr

Meghan Keane

Published 19 October, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Comments (3)


Thomas Hawk

Is it any surprise that Yahoo's new $100 million marketing campaigns rings false and hollow when their actual company practices of destroying user data without warning stand in direct contrast to the tagline that the new Yahoo is all about you?

over 8 years ago


Vincent Roman

Reminds me of the vomiting female campaign from Microsoft.  That fell on pretty def ears!

over 8 years ago


pressure gauges

I have heard this news before

over 8 years ago

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