Cisco Launches $100-$150M Ad Campaign

Cisco Systems said on Tuesday that it would ramp up its advertising in 2003, beginning a $100 million to $150 million over the next year to push itself as the center of networked computing for businesses large and small.

The campaign will feature television advertisements and newspaper spreads that tout the centrality of the network to IT systems and Cisco’s pivotal position in networking. The ads drive potential customers to a Cisco Web site for more detailed information.

“We want people to think of the network in a new and interesting way,” said Marilyn Mersereau, Cisco’s vice president for corporate marketing. “That the network has all this power to help companies collaborate, be more productive, be more agile, be mobile, be secure.”

The campaign, designed by Oglivy and Mather’s Los Angeles office, began today with the tagline: “This is the power of the network. Now.” Cisco plans on television advertising running on 24, the West Wing, CSI and 60 Minutes, in addition to spots on national cable channels like ESPN and CNN. In addition, it will feature eight-page spreads in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and San Jose Mercury News, as well as ads in a variety of business and trade magazines such as Forbes and Information Week.

An online component will back up the broadcast and print campaigns, which will direct customers to a Web site the company has set up, with thousands of pages of background information on everything from Cisco routers to switches to storage networks. The site features ROI calculators, white papers and case studies.

With the tech industry downturn, Cisco significantly scaled back from the nearly $50 million it spent on U.S. advertising during 2000. Other technology companies began sizeable ad pushes in the latter part of 2002. In late October, IBM started its $800 million “e-business on demand” campaign. A month later, HP launched its estimated $400 million “Everything is Possible” campaign.

Like HP and IBM, Cisco’s ads try to explain in simple terms the company’s role in a highly complex process. One TV spot highlights how networked computing systems are changing the lives of people around the world — from heart patients in Tokyo to schoolchildren in Marrakesh to Parisian lovers.

“Our campaign places a new emphasis on the power of network and showcases the productivity-increasing benefits afforded with Cisco’s industry-leading networking technologies in a very realistic, empathetic way,” Mersereau said.

In the next four to six months, Cisco plans to roll out the campaign to the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, China and Japan.

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