Cisco Evolves the ‘Human Network’

CHICAGO Technology provider Cisco Systems has launched the second phase of the “Human Network” campaign, which centers on the impact of Internet networks on people and businesses. The new global effort is breaking this week.

Initial U.S. TV spots, via WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather, Los Angeles, will focus on the “save more, travel less effect” — one of the campaign’s seven themes highlighting technologies, such as Web conferencing and telepresence. One spot (set in offices) features business executives mirroring flight attendants and dourly reciting instructions for emergency evacuation and fastening seat belts. The final visual pans back to a wide shot of a conference room, where three executives are in a meeting with three others wearing inflatable flotation vests on life-size TV screens. The voiceover states: “Business travel without the travel. Welcome to the Human Network.”

“Travel is not the most glamorous experience anymore; you’ve got the high cost of oil, unproductive time spent getting from place to place and the work/life balance that you forfeit,” said Marilyn Mersereau, Cisco’s svp, marketing. “‘Save more, travel less’ is one of the effects of the Human Network.”

In addition to the spots, digital ads will target business travelers on sites like Weather.com, CNN.com, WSJ.com and CNBC.com.

The other six themes that Cisco will introduce are: “the new collaboration effect,” “the break down barriers effect,” “the power when you need it effect,” “the launch products faster effect,” “save the planet effect” and “the knowledge is power effect.”

The campaign, however, excludes print — a medium that Cisco has reserved for new product launches, per the company. Instead, it will heavily focus on TV, online and product placement. Cisco’s products have previously appeared in episodes of 24, The Office, West Wing and CSI, as well as during ESPN and NBA telecasts.

With the launch of this campaign, the overall initiative enters its second year as Cisco, San Jose, Calif., continues to position itself as a provider of advanced communications and information technology. The company hopes move away from its older image of a network supplier of switches and routers.

Mersereau said Cisco uses humor and emotion to draw consumers and businesses to the brand. She added, “We’re presenting ourselves in the future aspiration of our company and how we play in this broader IT and communication segment . . . and I think we take a broader approach than our competitors.”

Cisco, with annual measured media spending per Nielsen Monitor-Plus of $80 million, is out-gunned by the marketing budgets of larger competitors like IBM and Hewlett-Packard, which spent $125 million and $250 million, respectively, last year. Meanwhile, another competitor, Nortel, tripled its spending through June of this year to $6 million for its “Business made simple” effort. Still, Cisco managed to climb from No. 18 to No. 17 in Interbrand’s recent rankings of the Best Global Brands. IBM moved up from third to second place, and HP was ranked No. 12.