Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo’s New Marketing Push: Purple Rain! (Actually, Purple Pain.)

First off, as Digital Daily’s John Paczkowski pointed out to me today, you have to give Yahoo props for using Gogol Bordello as the soundtrack and–more to the point–actually knowing about Gogol Bordello in the first place.

“Since when does [Yahoo CEO Jerry] Yang listen to gypsy punk?” asked Paczkowski in an email to me today.

Since Bill Gates started eating churros with Jerry Seinfeld and adjusting his skivvies hands-free, that’s when!

Oh dear, Yahoo (YHOO) has succumbed to the hipster, ironic thing–an unfortunate marketing virus that has hit Microsoft (MSFT) of late too–in an under-the-covers “Start Wearing Purple” online marketing campaign.

The Internet company is now out with a Web site touting itself, advocating that people “celebrate purple.”

Purple and yellow have always been Yahoo’s colors–even while Google (GOOG) just up-and-grabbed the whole spectrum and emerged victorious.

Nonetheless, Yahoo is going to town on the purple idea, using a lot of its tools and products in the process to show itself off.

The effort starts with a video of multiracial hipsters doing wacky stuff, including a yodeling Yang (see at top), which makes it look like a very alternative version of “High School Musical.”

Also on the site: See purple-inspired photos from Flickr; view videos of “Purple Pranks” (first up, of course, ringers singing the purple song in an elevator to unsuspecting folks); peruse profiles of “Purple Picks” (like the cool crafts site Etsy and artist Clarence Lee) and “Purple Pioneers” (a mix of do-gooders and more hipsters, so far); and even search the word “purple” on Yahoo to fun-filled results.

There’s also a bunch of purple bikes apparently traveling the globe and taking pictures that will be uploaded to a Flickr map. And, natch, you can buy purple clothes.

After trolling the site for a bit, I can tell you I live in the dead center of San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood and we don’t get that purple here ever!

In other words, it’s all very high-concept, much like the dancing guy video that Yahoo did recently (see that very sweet morale-building video at the very bottom).

But to really resonate with the mass of users Yahoo needs to hold onto, as dull as this sounds, I would just like a simple explanation of why I should use Yahoo in my daily life.

The legendary Apple (AAPL) Mac-PC ads that Yahoo and Microsoft are clearly trying to mimic are good primarily because they have a message in each funny exchange about why you need to own a Mac.

Not so much with this quirky Yahoo effort, which is laudable, but a waste of time.

In the main “celebrate purple” video on the site, part of the tag line is: “Deep inside everyone is a Yahoo! waiting to come out. Set yourself free with a little purple.”

Actually, deep inside Yahoo is a Yahoo waiting to come out. And it is going to take more than purple to coax that magical creature out into the light again.