Yahoo Asks Students to Teach Campaign Message

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Yahoo recently released short videos created by film students from New York's Parsons New School for Design, London Film Academy, the San Francisco Art Institute and Yale University to promote the redesign of its home page.

Ad agency Ogilvy & Mather broadcast 11 videos on created by the students as part of this campaign. Students were given scripts and permission to use proprietary logos in order to produce humorous, sometimes irreverent, films about a changing Yahoo.

"The college demographic is an important demographic for us ... In this case it felt very natural [to ask film schools]," said Alan Olivio, vice president of global marketing at Yahoo, Sunnyvale, CA. "We could have asked Hollywood producers. But that's not Yahoo."

Jeff Curry, creative director at Ogilvy & Mather, New York, who worked on the Yahoo campaign, compared the process with film students to a real production. The agency received more than 100 treatments. The chosen videographers got direct client feedback and real-world deadlines.

"We decided to reach out to the next generation of film directors," Mr. Curry said. "Yahoo is a youth-based gathering place. It's a place where people have conversations. This technique might not be appropriate for other brands."

Conversations and the user-generated aspects of the campaign, which invite comments and reply video posts, give users a space to say positive and negative things about the Yahoo brand. Yahoo is comfortable with this risk.

"We don't take ourselves too seriously at Yahoo," Mr. Olivio said. "For heaven's sake, we yodel. We do take our customers and their needs very seriously."

The new campaign looks to drive home page downloads. But the film school video aspect also aims to encourage customer engagement and for people to adopt Yahoo as their new home page.

The student-made Yahoo videos have had 150,000 views, and 9,000 users have downloaded sample scripts or the Yahoo yodel or logo provided at the video Web site. Some user-generated videos have been posted, and Yahoo anticipates more will be posted to reflect the high number of downloads.

"User-generated content either happens or it doesn't happen at all," Mr. Curry said. "It's like throwing a party and waiting for people to show up. The potential is that tomorrow a million people walk through the door, or none."

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