Yahoo has tapped Silicon Valley marketing veteran Elisa Steele as its new chief marketing officer.
Steele comes to Yahoo from NetApp, a Silicon Valley-based provider of storage systems. There she led corporate marketing, including brand strategy and corporate relations. In the CMO role at Yahoo, Steele will lead brand marketing, corporate communications, public policy and community affairs. She reports to Carol Bartz, Yahoo’s CEO.
Bartz has made reviving the Yahoo brand a top priority since joining the company in January.
“It’s one of our biggest assets,” Bartz wrote in a blog post in late February.
“Mention Yahoo practically anywhere in the world, and people yodel. But in the past few years, we haven’t been as clear in showing the world what the Yahoo brand stands for. We’re going to change that. Look for this company’s brand to kick ass again.”
Prior to joining NetApp in 2005, Steele spent nearly five years at Sun Microsystems, leading its marketing group. Her prior experience includes management roles at iPlanet eCommerce Solutions, JavaSoft and AT&T.
Yahoo has been without a CMO since October 2007, when Cammie Dunaway resigned. She eventually landed at Nintendo.
Yahoo has struggled to define itself from its portal roots as the Internet world has shifted to search and social media. It has run into a seemingly implacable foe in Google, which has become synonymous with Internet search. Meanwhile, upstarts like Facebook and MySpace have developed into the top brands in social media, particularly among teens and young adults.
Yahoo has pulled back on its advertising in recent years. Its most recent brand campaign was in 2007, when its “Be a better…” push promoted how Yahoo could improve people’s lives in different ways.
Its ad spending, not including online, dropped from $40 million-plus in 2007 to $24 million in 2008, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. WPP Group’s Soho Square and OgilvyOne are Yahoo’s lead agencies.