Kara Swisher

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Ross Went to Cannes and All You Yahoos Got Was This Internal Memo!

Interim Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn released a travelogue of an internal memo today to Yahoo staff about his recent sojourn in the south of France.

There, he attended the big annual advertising confab called the Cannes Lions Festival, where he got a lot of petting from marketers such as Procter & Gamble.

When he got back, he penned an internal memo for employees about it all.

Apparently, there was a lot of body movement.

“While there were questions and concerns about our path ahead, I saw body language change during meetings,” he wrote. “Clients leaned forward, asked questions, and in several cases, global CMOs committed to moving spend to us.”

Ooh, la, la — Levinsohn can hope!

Enjoy the email:


This past week I was in London for an EMEA All Hands, and then at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity for more than 150 executive meetings between our teams from around the globe and the world’s largest brands and advertising agencies.

While in London, I was able to interact with hundreds of our fellow Yahoos live and hundreds more via webcast. The passion and desire I felt and heard made me proud. We have to grow our business and presence in EMEA, and that will only happen with focus and investments.

In Cannes, we spoke to our partners from around the world about our revival, our focus, and the opportunities to collaborate on bringing fresh creative experiences to consumers. And we listened. This was a very different Cannes than last year. There was an energy in our meetings that didn’t exist last year. While there were questions and concerns about our path ahead, I saw body language change during meetings — clients leaned forward, asked questions, and in several cases, global CMOs committed to moving spend to us.

I learned a lot about what the world thinks of Yahoo!, and wanted to share a few thoughts and insights with you:

**Our consistent message around a tech powered media company really resonates. Our focus is clear as we describe how we’re leveraging great technology to deliver unique and compelling experiences across screens. We talked a lot about flawless execution, global opportunities, and how we can build value for advertisers and consumers.

**Clients had a wide-eyed reaction when shown a glimpse of our innovative upcoming products and experiences where we are re-imagining how consumers can discover and explore content across screens. The global digital lead of one of the largest advertising agencies called some of the things we showed “the best products I’ve seen from Yahoo! in years,” and another remarked this is “the best new product idea we’ve heard at Cannes.”

**We’re continuing to change the perception versus reality issue. At the end of a long meeting, a top executive at a beauty care product company told us that when he arrived, he was unclear about how Yahoo! was positioned for the future or why he should believe — after hearing from the team, he left “knowing how Yahoo! is going to compete and succeed in a different way than anyone else in the market.” He understood how content can drive people into a commerce funnel; how communications can enable powerful sharing of experiences; how the ability to ‘discover’ across the Yahoo! network and the Web at large means something different and additive to simply searching.

**There is nothing stronger than 3rd party validation for what you already know to be true. On Friday, I was on a panel (which you will find on Backyard later this week) with Publicis’ CEO, Maurice Levy — one of the most influential businessmen in France and in advertising worldwide; and Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer for Proctor and Gamble — the world’s largest advertiser. Discussion topics ranged from the ‘new Yahoo!’ and the importance of creative content to digital shifts, and how agencies, publishers, and brands all need to partner together to the benefit the consumer. Maurice and Marc validated our business and gave the crowd “A fresh perspective on Yahoo!” — with Marc personally endorsing Yahoo! as the technology driven media company!

**So, what do we need to do more of? We need to be more vocal and communicate our wins — both internally and externally. Tell our teams, clients, partners, friends, and critics about the great experiences we bring to life every single day. Each and every one of us needs to be the company’s largest advocate and educate others with the same passion and enthusiasm we bring into the office daily. We’re far too reserved for the leadership positions we hold, and too quiet for the ambitious plans we have.

I recorded a video message with some additional thoughts from Cannes here. If you want to learn more about Yahoo!’s presence and interviews with other industry figures, visit advertising.yahoo.com.

I want to thank the teams that made the EMEA All Hands and Cannes remarkable experiences. I’m back in the States this week — recharged and ready to sprint forward!


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