Yahoo! Plays Up E-Dating Game

SAN FRANCISCO Yahoo! is launching a branding campaign for its Personals site that capitalizes on the excitement of first dates and the early days of a relationship.

The “Believe” campaign encompasses television, radio, outdoor and online ads. It will roll out with a 30-second TV spot from Black Rocket Euro RSCG here that will air during the Academy Awards broadcast on March 23. The commercial, called “Big Night,” includes a clever series of vignettes—a guy in cowboy garb picking out his hat, a single mother whose 4-year-old daughter helps her choose earrings—depicting singles getting ready for a date.

After the Academy Awards, the spot will play in cable rotation for six to eight weeks.

The outdoor advertisements offer hand-drawn images of things like two toothbrushes in a cup, or a flower with petals pulled off. The message on the latter is: “He e-mails me, he e-mails me not.”

“The idea around the creative was to do something different and not feel like a hard sell,” said Katie Mitic, vice president and general manager for Yahoo! Personals. “We wanted it to capture those sparkly moments when you just start a relationship. The ‘Believe’ campaign shows that there are great people out there to meet and date. And Yahoo! Personals is the place to help you do that.”

Yahoo! would not disclose the campaign spend. The company spent nearly $30 million in advertising last year, according to CMR.

The online personals space is a particularly hot market. Personals/dating surpassed the business/investment category to become the largest paid content section with revenue of $302 million, a nearly threefold increase from the year before, according to the Online Publishers Association.