Yahoo's Bartz: Tiger's scandal "better than Michael Jackson dying"

Summary:Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz says Tiger Woods scandal is better for traffic than Michael Jackson dying? Ouch. Can Bartz get away with a comment like that? Of course, she can.

You've got to love a spitfire of an executive who speaks her mind and tells it the way it is - even if it makes PR folks cringe when the words come blaring out.

Today's example: Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz told attendees of the UBS Media and Communications Conference in New York that Tiger Woods sex scandal was a better traffic generator than the death of Michael Jackson.

Putting it in context, she was talking about the various news verticals within Yahoo - entertainment, Sports, front page news and so on. The Tiger scandal hit multiple verticals, bringing in sports readers, Hollywood gossip readers, top headlines readers and so on. That was good for Yahoo.

From the transcript:

Bartz: But you always compete -- I mean, my Yahoo! sports wakes up every morning competing with ESPN. News wakes up competing with CNN. I mean, or the BBC or Eurosport. So you know who the verticals are. We -- I love that kind of competition. So you know, God bless Tiger. I mean this week, we got a huge uplift. No, seriously. (Multiple speakers). We got front-page, news, sports, gossip. I mean, he just filters through the whole place. So --

Brian Pitz, UBS Analyst: Is Tiger going to help make the quarter?

Bartz: Absolutely. It's better than Michael Jackson dying. It's kind of hard to put an ad up next to a funeral.

Well, that's one way to say it, I suppose. And I'm sure that particular comparison was enough to make some of Yahoo's PR types pause. But Bartz has two things going for her.

First, she's talking business - Michael Jackson's death was a news event, plain and simple.  So is Tiger's scandal. That translates into searches and clicks and page views - and that's Yahoo's business.

Second, Bartz is charismatic. She's not trying to be crude or insensitive. She has a strong personality and, overall, that's been a positive for Yahoo as it's worked to move in new directions.

A final thought: That charisma only goes so far. A post on Smartplanet today - titled Charismatic CEO? Investors should duck - looks at the effects of such an executive on the company's overall performance.

Topics: Social Enterprise

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