Yext throws it back to the ‘90s

It might be fun to revisit the fashion and music from the 1990s, but it’s time to say bye, bye, bye to its ancient technology. 

Search platform Yext wants to educate businesses about the shortcomings of keyword search, which hasn’t changed since 1999, in a new 1990s-themed integrated marketing campaign. 

Entering a keyword search often brings up a list of irrelevant results. Yext provides a search solution that uses artificial intelligence to make keyword searches more effective. 

“We wanted to educate [businesses] without doing a stale B2B message,” Josh Grau, CMO at Yext, told Campaign US. “The 1990s opened the door for us to have a lot of fun with these analogies. You wouldn’t use a fax machine to run your business. We’re trying to draw the connection to all this outdated tech, which sounds absurd to even think of using now.”

The campaign includes a physical CD-ROM distribution, reminiscent of AOL’s free trial CDs. There’s also an interactive “Escape the 90s” Y2K survival game, digital ads that mimic Windows 98 error messages, and even a cameo from NSYNC’s Lance Bass. Digital and podcast ads will run this week, including digital out-of-home media that will appear on LinkNYC kiosks in New York City.

Yext will also debut its first-ever TV spot, in partnership with Sawhorse Productions out of Los Angeles, which personifies technology as characters. The cell phone and the Internet, for example, return to their class of 1999 high school reunion. While these technologies have evolved, keyword search is still stuck in the 1990s with his looks and his attitude. The spot runs from June 7 through July 31 in major cities including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, LA, Charlotte, Denver and San Francisco.

Grau said the campaign isn’t meant to make the ‘90s sound like “this magical place” people should return to, despite the nostalgia factor.

“I know, it’s fun to look at a landline, but [‘90s technology] is so ineffective,” Grau said. “We wanted to make the ‘90s almost a villain in that regard. Even though we’re trying to romanticize it at the same time.”

Overall, the campaign aims to drive awareness to Yext’s platform.

“We are not just dabbling in the world of search, but we are a bonafide search company,” he said. “And we intend to be a very disruptive one.”


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