YP Touts Its App in New Ads From BarrettSF

YellowPages redefines itself for the digital age

Can a 20th century search brand not only survive but thrive in the new millennium?

That's the central question facing YP (formerly YellowPages), as the company launches a new campaign from an array of new agencies led by barrettSF.

The effort, which includes outdoor, digital and radio ads, positions YP as a lightning-quick mobile app for discernible "doers." One outdoor ad, for example, features the jumbled question, "Need a good plumbelectrizzadoctwyerchanic?" over copy that says, "18 million businesses, one app." Another ad features a string of words with missing letters that connote text-like speed ("Gt thngs dne qkr.") The tagline is, "The new way to do."

"I wanted to be very explicit that we are not a social media business. We're not about just searching. We're about getting things done," explained Alex Kaminsky, vp of brand and advertising at YP in Atlanta. "The Googles, the Yelps, the other companies—they have great products and they have terrific brands, but I think we have a more active approach to helping people get stuff done."

BarrettSF co-founder and creative director Jamie Barrett added that YP's "great advantage is it's localized. So, it's more targeted and smarter in terms of search."

Although the campaign touts YP's mobile app, the company also operates a core website and continues to print directories. Once a division of AT&T, YP is now majority-owned (53 percent) by Cerberus Capital Management, though AT&T still holds a 47 percent stake.

The outdoor ads just rolled out in San Francisco and New York and will extend to Los Angeles and Atlanta next month. Beyond ads, YP will have a presence at community gatherings like farmers markets and sporting events, including football games played by the Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts and the University of Southern California. Kaminsky also is talking to Barrett about creating Web videos to complement display ads. Spending on the campaign was not disclosed.

BarrettSF landed YP's creative account without a pitch on the strength of Barrett's past relationship with Kaminsky. The two worked together from 1999 to 2001 when Barrett was executive creative director at Fallon, New York, and Kaminsky was vp of marketing at MindSpring, a Fallon client.  

Kaminsky went on to lead marketing at Weather.com and launch a brand consultancy (Ideas Define). Barrett, meanwhile, became a partner and ecd at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners before leaving last year to start his own agency in San Francisco.

In January, Kaminsky joined YP and began a brand rethink that resulted in the hiring of Interbrand to forge a brand strategy; barrettSF, to create ads and content; Havas Media, to plan and buy media; and Ignition, to execute events.

"The new way to do" represents barrettSF's first work for YP, the agency's largest account. Other accounts include Pac-12 Networks, the California Redwood Association, Rubio's restaurant and Mad Libs.

YP's last lead agency was Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners in Sausalito, Calif., which split with the brand in the spring. Butler, Shine worked for YP since 2010.