Oct 20, 2009

More Magic Advertising Words

The Wall Street Journal' Kara Swisher reported yesterday that Yahoo! was moving its ad account from Ogilvy to Goodby. The news was greeted in ad circles with the usual schadenfreude and proclamations that golden child Goodby would “finally give them a good campaign.”

If only it were that easy.

Once again we have a case of a company relying on the power of Magic Advertising Words to save them from doom when the real problem is a less-than-ideal product.

I’m not going to fix Yahoo in a single blog post (though this one, from Nicholas Carlson over at BusinessInsider, is a good start) but the recent changes the company has made to its homepage, email and mobile sites have been more or less universally greeted with a great big shrug.

And that’s not good.

Yahoo needs an image makeover. But the days where that could be accomplished via a really clever ad campaign are long gone. (If indeed they ever really existed.) The product is still popular and still has a big user base, particularly with people who are less internet savvy, but hey, wasn’t that what we were all saying about MySpace around this time last year, and look what’s happened to them. (And it’s not like we can even say Yahoo’s really popular with up and coming rock bands or anything.)

Blaming the ad agency or the advertising for a product’s poor performance is always a simple solution: we make great scapegoats. And while “It’s Y!ou” was probably not doing anyone any favors, Yahoo’s problems are not going to be solved by a new ad campaign.

Not until they invest some more in R&D, anyway.

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