The truth about Oath

BY Julian Gorham

Names have ‘Handle With Care’ written all over them. These ticking bombs of emotion can go off any time you’re developing or launching them, provoking love, hate and everything in between. And that’s just among the people who are creating them.

So it is with caution that one approaches reports that Verizon will be launching ‘Oath’ – some sort of rebranded combination of Yahoo and AOL.

What is our response?

First, what will ‘Oath’ really be the name of? It is hard to believe that Verizon would purchase Yahoo and then immediately jettison the brand equity they paid money for. Yahoo (minus the Alibaba bit) cost Verizon $4.83 billion in July 2016, though thanks to the revelation of massive data breaches the deal has taken time to complete.

Despite this, of course, the Yahoo name has value. It remains among the biggest destinations for Internet users, particularly people who just use its email. And AOL is still a pretty big name.

Digging a little deeper into the story, it seems the Yahoo brand will not disappear, but rather that it will remain as part of a typical ‘house of brands’ strategy – a media brand sitting beneath ‘Oath’ and alongside Verizon’s other media entities, AOL and the Huffington Post.

Second, merging AOL and Yahoo is no surprise. In buying Yahoo, Verizon’s goal was to create a group of internet destinations with enough visitors so it could provide a credible alternative to Google and Facebook.

The Twittersphere is lit with the usual outrage reserved for the launch of pretty much anything new, but particularly a new name.

No doubt things will settle down as people get used to the new name and put it in context. But, interestingly, one test this name doesn’t really pass is the international pronunciation one. ‘Oath’. That ‘t’ and ‘h’ combination. For the French? For the Spanish?