Yahoo has undergone a rough patch lately, but some of the latest members of its executive exodus hope to tap into a bright spot of its heritage: innovative marketing.
The team behind its nontraditional marketing efforts, like setting up a yodel studio in Times Square, has left the Internet company to create its own agency, Manifold.
Based in San Francisco, Manifold is a five-person buzz marketing shop. It brings together longtime Yahoo marketing executives, including former director of buzz marketing Sean Florio, who wrapped up work at Yahoo yesterday.
Manifold plans to specialize in nontraditional marketing efforts that use everything from events to digital technology to pop culture. The experience of working with agencies for over a decade on the client side ingrained in him the right kind of agency, according to Florio (pictured at right).
"We were hearing agencies with great ideas, but in some cases the ideas couldn't be executed. We called them jetpacks," he said. "If we pitch a jetpack, clients will know we can build a jetpack."
Other members of the Yahoo buzz marketing team that left to join the shop are: Jason Anello, Kelly Delaney Long, Brian Mullin and Mike Weaver. They come from backgrounds in public relations, Web development and art direction. AllThingsD first reported their impending departure last week.
"We're calling the philosophy marketing minus the medium," Florio said. "We believe in great ideas and great execution and then we decide what audience to activate and what tools to use."
With the yodel initiative last October, Yahoo set up outdoor studios in New York, Mumbai and London. People could record their own versions of the trademark Yahoo yodel. The Web component allowed people elsewhere to do the same.
The buzz team spent half its time working with Yahoo clients to extend their marketing initiatives on the portal. It assisted with the online implementation of Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" program, for instance.
"What they're really good at is taking big ideas and creating interactions between the brand and consumer and amplifying the buzz," said Wenda Harris Millard, president of MediaLink and former chief sales officer at Yahoo. "There's so much noise out there that trying to find anything that truly breaks through and makes a connection with a customer, every marketer is looking for that."