Link: Click Here
Target: Online Searchers
A woman kneels in her garden, opening a spray bottle. Her neighbor says, “Hi Nancy, what you got there?” Nancy replies, “Just some new fertilizer I saw on TV.” Then Nancy sprays it on her flowers. They immediately start to wither as do the rest of her flowers, her trees and lawn. Then the spot returns to the beginning. This time instead of saying “I saw on TV,” Nancy says “some new fertilizer I learned about on Yahoo!” When she sprays her flowers, they sprout up instantly. A tidal wave of life spreads through her yard culminating with her dog Scruffy jumping up from under his grave. Nancy’s daughter rushes to embrace the dog, exclaiming ‘Scruffy, you’re alive.” The spot cuts to a screenshot of the Yahoo! portal home page and the voiceover says, “Get the answers you need with Yahoo! Answers. The new Yahoo.com.” The spot ends with the onscreen tagline “Do you Yahoo!?”
This spot, part of the new Yahoo! Life campaign exemplifies both the strengths and flaws of the campaign. Additional spots thus far in this campaign include ‘Bully‘ and ‘Recall‘. Each spot does a very good job of illustrating reasons why you might want to use Yahoo! for research (Garden), mail (Bully) or news (Recall) by exaggerating the likely result. The spots are memorable, particularly this one where the unsurprising garden rejuvenation that we’ve been set up for is capped by the utterly shocking resurrection of the dog. The style of the spots is irreverent, which fits the brand character of Yahoo! and is consistent with earlier campaigns. The pacing of these spots is also excellent, and they bear repeated watching very well.
The problem with the Yahoo! ‘Garden’ spot (which is also a problem with ‘Recall’) is that the plot device it uses to grab the viewers attention is so shocking that it distracts us from the premise of the spot and makes it harder to form the brand association with Yahoo!. In the case of ‘Garden’ this may be a good thing, for while teen viewers and a few adults may appreciate the cheeky sense of humor on display when the family dog Scruffy emerges from the ground, others will be shocked and offended. This advertising blog appreciates ads that take risks, but there is always a fine line to tread and in this case we think that Yahoo! has stepped across. This may make the spot a viral favorite, but it will also leave many people standing slack-jawed in shock after watching the commercial. This will not help a brand seeking to surge past Google as the provider of choice for search, news and mail online. Our feelings on this spot in many ways parallel our views of the GAP spot using Audrey Hepburn which has generated a great deal of controversy. Controversy may be a good thing in general for brands which need to be remembered above all, but it was probably not the outcome GAP was hoping for. Similarly, Yahoo! wants to be remembered but it also needs to get its message through. The shock of seeing a dog resurrected in a cheery commercial (and the shock of seeing people ejected from their cars by faulty airbags in the ‘Recall’ spot) may diminish the message recall even as it immortalizes itself as a bit of dark cultural humor.
Branding Bottom Line:
Yahoo! keeps us awake – forever.