Every charity and awareness campaign has a color. There’s pink for breast cancer. Yellow to support the troops. Red for HIV/AIDS. White for peace. People wear color wristbands, ribbons and clothes to display their support for victims and raise awareness. Since late summer, Yahoo! has claimed the color purple (usually used to represent domestic violence awareness and Alzheimer’s disease, among other causes) as their own, urging their users to “Start Wearing Purple” to show their support for the search engine/mail service/Google-wannabe.
Purple has long been the company’s color, but the campaign is pretty tasteless even for our taste. They created purple-themed products, released several lame videos, and that dang theme song by NYC gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello has been stuck in our heads for weeks.
Nicholas Carlson at ValleyWag explained that Yahoo! is trying too hard to be like Apple:
Yahoo’s marketing department should spend all its time explaining to Internet users why they should use Yahoo instead of its competitors. That’s what Apple does with its “Mac vs. PC” ads. Each commercial humorously sticks to its talking points comparing the advantages of Macs over PCs. Apple does this because it remains far behind in the PC market and needs to convince customers to switch from more popular products.
That’s what Yahoo needs to do in search. But instead of saying why users should, it markets itself the way Apple markets the iPod — as a ubiquitous aspect of a certain way of life. Apple can do this because it already dominates a market full of similar digital music players. A better product helped sell the iPod to the masses. But an advertising campaign which keeps people associating themselves with the brand reinforces Apple’s dominance.
Yahoo doesn’t have that luxury.
Yahoo! needs to start convincing users why they’re better than Google (there are reasons, btdubz). But for now, perhaps Yahoo!’s employees should wear purple to mourn the loss of more than 1,400 of their employees that are about to be fired by CEO Jerry Yang.