The Original Yahoo

Legally changing his name by deed poll to Yahoo Serious in 1980, Yahoo has been known as Yahoo and called Yahoo by family, friends and professionally ever since.

Yahoo became one of Australia's most original and successful independent filmmakers. He was the first Australian to write, produce, direct and star in a major motion picture. With the global phenomenon of Young Einstein and the international publicity which resulted from its success, Yahoo's name was catapulted worldwide from 1989. However it has been on his passport, driver's licence, American Express card, in film, TV, radio and press for well over two decades. "Each day there are a million choices to be made starting with what you put on your toast. You're born with a name but so what?", explained Yahoo, "you can choose every other aspect of your life, so why not your name?"

"Creating a name is a conceptual act which pervades all aspects of your life and work." Yahoo originally attempted using a barcode but that obviously caused problems. So predicting the world in coming decades would turn hopelessly conservative he chose to conform - "I decided to collide two powerfully opposing words to create an oxymoron encapsulating the two sides of my personality, shouldn't everyone?".

Mr Serious was a surname that amused but it was Yahoo that provoked and became the name by which he was known. After Yahoo turned the word into a name he gave it a whole new meaning and personality. By the time TIME magazine splashed 'Yahoo!' and his face across its cover in 1989, his name had achieved both a cult and mainstream presence.

But you can bet your bum when something original is created and works then cheesy, plagiarist marketeers and intellectual property pirates will rip it off and blandly "McDonaldize" it. So some years later with the name now unique, international and popularly known there came into being...

The unoriginal Yahoo (internet company)

We've been so often asked so here's a little background history.

From a word, Yahoo created a name in 1980. His name had become a worldwide brand name by 1989. Then in the mid 1990s an internet company started up and adopted the name Yahoo for the name of their business. Their business was simply predicated on slapping the word Yahoo in front of various listings and services.

With this internet company now splattered all over the place, mass marketing has of course altered the perception of the previous decade. But by the time this company started up, Yahoo's work in Arts and entertainment had already created an association with the name Yahoo that was widely known internationally, particularly amoungst young people. Yahoo was synonymous with Young Einstein which is still considered by people from all over the world to be their favourite movie.

By the time the internet company started calling itself Yahoo, the real Yahoo was associated with wild ideas which were done in a popular, unconventional and life-affirming way. The image Yahoo had given the word carried a cache with prospective young customers. Yahoo's name was clearly not a negative asset to use.

To say that the internet company wasn't aware of Yahoo being Yahoo would mean that their founders were unaware of prevailing popular culture.

Prior to the internet company starting, Yahoo was very widely known internationally. In America his name had been on every major TV, radio and press network. He'd been on the cover of Time magazine under the banner 'Yahoo!'. Young Einstein had featured in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter under the banner 'Yahoo!'. He'd featured in Newsweek, Vanity Fair and newspapers from The L.A.Times to The New York Times. He'd been a guest on Jay Leno's Tonight Show and the morning Today Show, he'd even had his own prime time series on MTV. Plus Yahoo's first two movies had been distributed by Warner Bros in cinemas, on cable, video and TV. Young Einstein had achieved worldwide cult status. Understandably there were people assuming this new internet Yahoo must be Yahoo's company. If it wasn't another of Yahoo's creations why was it using his name? From the public in the street to the Post Office mail sorters, people were genuinely confused.

After the internet company took the name Yahoo, their mass marketing backed by huge advertising budgets destroyed the name's uniqueness and associated goodwill.

What does Yahoo himself think? "Why didn't those guys just create their own name?"

Plagiarism is a form of flattery some say. Well maybe in some cases, if carried out by other artists. But a bunch of marketeers have destroyed the uniqueness of a name. They've blanded it, McDonaldised it! Worse actually. There were hundreds of thousands of people in the world called McDonald. There is only one person called Yahoo. There is only one real Yahoo and no amount of mass marketing can ever change the facts or the history.

Serious Entertainment Pty Ltd 2000. All rights reserved.