How we made our “Anthem”

An anthem is a song of praise or loyalty

An anthem is a song of praise or loyalty.  Our anthem is dedicated to you, to the 500 million other “you’s” who frequent Yahoo! every month, and to the billions of new “you’s” who will visit in the years to come. Yahoo! has a simple promise: We will strive to be the center of your online lives by connecting you with the people and things that matter most.

To bring this promise to life, we shot a series of videos, lush vignettes set in multiple countries around the world, intended to represent the beauty, vitality, and diversity of you.  We used the best of that video library to create the 60-second anthem you see below:

 

There were some great creative minds and stories behind the video footage.  Our advertising agency Ogilvy assembled a star-studded production team that designed, shot and edited the videos in about a month.  The team included director Samuel Bayer, who directed Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around Comes Around”; costume designer Colleen Atwood, who won Academy Awards for her work in “Chicago” and “Memoirs of a Geisha”; Longinus Fernandes, the choreographer from “Slumdog Millionaire;” and Patrick Lumb, production designer for “Valkyrie.”  The result of their work is a tapestry of scenes that reflect the core brand attributes of Yahoo! — human, fun and inventive — expressed by people like you.  Every shot, every expression has a story to tell.

We shot in five cities around the world– Los Angeles, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, London and Hong Kong.   We braved the summer heat in the Mojave desert.  We got caught in a monsoon in Mumbai with only Pokemon (!!) slickers to keep us dry.  We fished for a soccer ball in the Arabian Sea using a bucket.  There was plenty of action behind the scenes.  Here are some fun tidbits about a few of the key shots:

  • Dancers in feathersThe dancers’ feathered skirts and headdresses were all hand-made by Colleen Atwood and her team. In the last scene, the lead dancer floating to the camera is suspended by cables.  And guess how many total dancers there are… only four.
  • Rose petals in the desert: We’re an environmentally conscious company. We actually swept up every rose petal during our time in the Mojave and brought them back to our studios in LA (okay, permits required us to do so as well).
  • Man jumping across frame: This scene is meant to evoke how using Yahoo! propels people to go further and to achieve more. We got the effect by having a gymnast jump from a trampoline across a picture frame suspended 25 feet. He nailed it on the first take.
  • Ice cream cone kidSpencer is our star 4-year old who you’ll see not only in this commercial, but also in various ads on the Web and in print. If you’re an Oprah viewer, look for Spencer at the end of her show.
  • Soccer playersSoccer is the best way to illustrate the global nature of sports and to show Yahoo! as the place where sports fans share their passions. We shot these scenes in Los Angeles, Mumbai, London and Rio de Janeiro. The take in Mumbai was an ordeal. Besides the torrential downpour, our only soccer ball ended up in the Arabian Sea after the first take.
  • Celebrity paparazzi: Millions of people visit Yahoo! for entertainment, celebrity gossip, and news.  A small crowd of people showed up in Los Angeles the day we were shooting to try to catch a glimpse of our “stars.”
  • Video game character: This scene represents the online games available on Yahoo! Games. The “purple gobbler” character was created for us from scratch.
  • Keystone cops: This is a tongue-in-cheek nod to Yahoo! Finance, one of our most popular sites. We shot this in the studio and employed techniques used during the days of silent pictures (the guy with the money bags is running on a treadmill).  Take a close look at the tires on the police car.
  • Club sceneShot in Filmistan Studios in Mumbai, the dance sequence was arranged by Longinus Fernandes, who also choreographed the final dance sequence in “Slumdog Millionaire.”  The “club smoke” you see is actually dust and dirt from the floor of the sound stage.
  • Walking exclamation pointWe climbed up to a rooftop in lower Mumbai to get this shot.
  • Light artist: This scene features an LA artist “painting” the air with an LED flashlight. In post production, the effects company, Method, tracked the point of light he emitted and mapped lighting effects to the path. It emphasizes Yahoo! as a source of creativity. This effect harkens back to a similar photo taken of Pablo Picasso in his studio (link).
  • The yodel: One of the highlights of our brand campaign is the re-launch of our signature yodel. Listen carefully at the end of the commercial. You’ll notice there isn’t one voice yodeling, but many. We recorded literally hundreds of different people yodeling and then blended them together to create a chorus. We wanted the new yodel to sound full and global, and to evoke a cheer from all the people around the world who visit Yahoo!.

There are many, many other amazing scenes that you will see in the weeks and months ahead.  Our plan is to leverage this library of video footage in online formats, in additional television commercials, on mobile phones, and even in digital billboards.  It began airing yesterday in the US, and you’ll see it in the UK and India starting October 5, and in other markets in 2010, including Brazil, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, and Taiwan.

We hope you enjoy Anthem, and, more importantly, we hope you see YOU in it.

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