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Yahoo Picks Up Baggage for the Holidays

On December 23 (the busiest travel day of the year), Yahoo sent employees to the San Francisco International and San Jose International airports and paid for airline customer’s baggage fees. According to NBC Bay Area, this was “not a bad deal for travelers, who likely booked –and payed for — their tickets, only to learn that they’d have to cough up a bit more dough for the privilege of actually traveling with luggage. The timing couldn’t be better for Yahoo. For one thing, people leaving town will have a warm feeling in their hearts about the search company.”

And according to AdAge, who called it a brilliant holiday marketing stunt, Yahoo hoped to inspire the Yahoo community to create a wave of goodwill. “Goodwill? Great. Putting the idea in consumers’ heads that Yahoo is a company that will make navigating the world simpler and cheaper? Brilliant.”

However, the AdAge article points out that the only issue with the stunt is scale. Instead of sending employees to just two airports near Silicon Valley, Yahoo could have spent more money – a lot more money – sponsoring baggage fees throughout the country for the whole holiday season.

I wholeheartedly agree. I think a bigger scale approach would get more attention and possibly build stronger brand affinity among consumers. Yahoo already launched Yahoo! for Good with a campaign spotlight on spreading kindness. Yahoo declares on its website:

This holiday, create a ripple of happiness triggered by your single act of kindness. Update your status to share what you’re doing to spread joy. Then inspire others to join you by asking “You in?” The more people you tell, the larger your ripple. We’ll use our network to share your good deeds with others. We’ll also be doing our own acts of kindness inspired by your updates. So whether you pay for someone’s groceries or drop off a coat for the homeless, your actions will encourage others around the world to join in. How big will your ripple of happiness be?

I personally find it endearing that this web giant is encouraging people to do random acts of kindness. But as an online marketer, I think the AdAge article had the issue spot on – this definitely could have been a much, much bigger campaign. Where is the social media component? There is already an inherent viral spread there (by updating your Yahoo status with your act of kindness, your actions will encourage others to join in), why didn’t Yahoo leverage the power of social media to blow up “Yahoo! for Good”? For instance, Yahoo could have incorporated their Facebook page – maybe create a tab for this campaign – and not only generate user interaction but also build their fan base and create lasting connections. Yahoo could also have used Twitter to send updates about making the holidays better by paying for your luggage fees. And last but not least, what about Flickr? It would have been great to see pictures of delighted customers who were treated to Yahoo’s generosity. Yahoo could have encouraged more people to comment, share stories, photos, videos, and basically engage with the brand.

These are just some of my thoughts, but in spite of all the could have’s, I still want to give kudos to Yahoo for doing its part in making the holidays easier and brighter. Maybe next time they can send some employees to the Boston Logan airport 🙂

I wish everyone a stress-free, kindness-filled, happy New Year!

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