Passersby are doing double takes at the world’s biggest brain, fashioned as a two-story terrarium atop the Hard Rock Café Marquee in New York City as part of Yahoo’s latest promotion.
The prop was unveiled yesterday in Times Square for the search engine’s Ask the Planet 2006 campaign to promote Yahoo Answers, an online community where consumers ask and answer questions on any topic.
The terrarium accommodates 22 “brainiacs,” who work within the gigantic purple brain—which is complete with firing synapses and lobes—answering questions from Yahoo Answers users around the world. The brainiacs were picked from an online submission process.
Onlookers can stop by highly trafficked Military Island in Times Square, directly across from the brain, to use PCs to ask or answer questions on the Web site. At Yahoo.com, consumers can view a live Brainiacs Webcast and Flickr photos taken of the event. Once the best answers reach 50,000, Yahoo Answers will donate a $50,000 check to the American Museum of Natural History in New York for Ology, a Web site that engages children in the study of science.
“We wanted to do this Yahoo Answers push because this is part of a business strategy to combine knowledge of people with a traditional Web search engine,” said Patrick Cane, VP-marketing, Yahoo Search. “Yahoo Answers has had over 15 million answers and 8 million users using the product and now…it’s ready for prime time.”
Over the course of the event, celebrities such as mind/body medicine specialist Dr. Deepak Chopra and nationally syndicated political columnist Arianna Huffington will make special appearances. The promotion runs through June 15.
An online component runs through July 10, in which celebrities post a featured question of the day to which users may respond. A calendar highlights the dates celebrities, including former Vice President Al Gore and mogul Donald Trump, will post questions. U2′s Bono will ask the last big question on July 10. Users with the best answers will be entered into a sweepstakes to win prizes such as a Toyota Prius, free gas for a year or trips for two to several destinations.
“We take the big innovations that we have had and create huge promotions that fit with our overall strategy, rather than do a lot of small things,” Crane said. “We want to build awareness around these hero products and this [promotion] does a benefit to the overall brand.”
A soon-to-be-announced viral micro site will let consumers pick animated characters—which will act out their questions in fun and entertaining ways—in messages sent to friends, he said.
Yahoo Answers is featured on the search engine’s home page and via banner ads across all its products to highlight the question of the day during the campaign. Sunnyvale, CA-based Yahoo launched Yahoo Answers last December. The portal is now available in 17 countries worldwide.
Print ads in USA Today and radio spots support. Yahoo is also dedicating its corporate sponsorships, placements and billboards across the country to the campaign. New York City-based OgilvyOne handles advertisement elements of the promotion. Yahoo’s Buzz Marketing team handles the Times Square event.