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Yahoo turns to ad agencies amid calls for change -- report

Under increasing pressure to attract people to its products, Yahoo will reportedly hear pitches for a full branding campaign.

CEO Marissa Mayer is facing pressure to repair the Yahoo brand. James Martin/CNET

Yahoo may soon launch a new ad campaign in an attempt to bring back consumers that have left its services, AdAge reported on Friday.

Yahoo has contacted a handful of ad agencies recently to determine whether one of them could be up to the task of creating a full branding campaign for the company, people familiar with the effort told AdAge. Yahoo is expecting the firms, which have not been named, to pitch their ideas later this month, according to AdAge.

Yahoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The pitches would come at a somewhat tumultuous time for the company. While Yahoo just scored a multibillion-dollar windfall from the Alibaba IPO, CEO Marissa Mayer has been called upon by some investors to make drastic moves to help her business. One of those moves, pitched by activist investor Starboard Value, is a merger between Yahoo and AOL. Starboard argues it would help the companies as they vie for more market share in an online-advertising market dominated by Google.

Mayer was also taken to task on Monday by one of her investors, Alternative Investment Management & Research, in a letter that said Mayer should consider selling at least a large chunk of Yahoo to Japan-based telecommunications company SoftBank -- and allowing that firm's CEO, Masayoshi Son, to run Yahoo.

"We think that Yahoo would be far better off under the stewardship and vision of Mr. Son than under Yahoo's current top management," Alternative Investment Management & Research Managing Director Albert Saporta wrote in the letter, according to Bloomberg. "We would rather have Mr. Son in charge of investing Yahoo's cash hoard."

Finding an advertising agency that can help repair the Yahoo brand might prove difficult. While Mayer has done a good job at attracting more users to the company's many platforms, there is still a general consensus that Yahoo is an older company that can't match Google. It's possible that Yahoo believes a branding campaign could help change that mindset among some users.

Mayer has attempted to make changes to her company's brand already. Last year, Yahoo changed its logo to make it more modern. If the AdAge report is true, it appears more changes are afoot.