What Is Wrong With Yahoo! Wanting You To Hug Yourself?

The full page advertising blitzkrieg launched by Yahoo! India on Monday was wrong on so many different levels that I am tempted to strike out everything that I had previously said about the company here. Then again, Yahoo! India has been a different beast from its parent division, lacking in consistency, direction and focus, with the only common thread being the manner in which both have wasted away the tremendous head start they have previously had in the space.

yahoo_sep09_ad.pngFor starters, the idea of white text on contrasting backgrounds of bright yellow and black makes reading really difficult. The 'YOURS' in Yahoo!'s purple only serves to take the confusion to a totally different level. It is quite strange that even an agency like O&M would make a glaring error like that. Maybe there is some subliminal messaging in the text when it is overlaid over such backgrounds, but if there is one in it, it has totally missed me.

Secondly, the picture of a girl hugging herself has no connection with the text – “The internet is under a new management. YOURS.” How is a girl hugging herself the representation of being in charge? Being in charge often requires secondary subjects to be in the picture to establish and project that connection as a contrast. Being on your own, hugging yourself is the best way to say you are alone and on your own. It goes much better with Nobody wants me, I'm nobody's child.

Thirdly, the cocky text will make no sense to most users. How many of you wanted to be the internet's manager? What exactly is managing the internet anyway? I think the idea is to put across the message that Yahoo! is the gateway to the internet and by allowing you to put widgets on the home page somehow they are allowing you to be in control. To be fair, this was not something thought up by Yahoo! India, but by Bartz and Co in Sunnyvale.

Lastly, why did Yahoo! not do the creative in local languages too? The English-speaking Indian internet users are very unlikely to switch over to check out the new Yahoo!. The company also has substantial local language offerings in India. Growth for the company is going to come largely from those demographics where the comfort level with English is not that great. Then again, as said before, Yahoo! India has not been exactly the brightest and best apple in the orchard here.