Aprisma Management Technologies, which offers network infrastructure management software and services, debuted a $12 million ad campaign on Sept. 18.
If the name sounds unfamiliar, itâs most likely because Durham, N.H.-based Aprisma didnât exist until February, though its product has been around for 10 years. Aprisma is the new name for a unit of Cabletron Systems Inc., which now functions as a holding company after announcing a plan to break itself into four independent businesses earlier this year. [See "Cabletron unit coins new name," Aug. 28, Page 1.]
As one of the new Cabletron businesses, Aprisma offers network infrastructure management software called Spectrum, which was introduced in 1990.
With Spectrum in its portfolio, revenues for 2000 are expected to be more than $50 million. But as a new business, it faces the challenge of introducing its name to its customers and prospects. Aprisma management, however, believes that its separation from Cabletron will unshackle Spectrumâs potential.
Hurwitz Group Inc. analyst Caryn Gillooly agreed. Itâs a good move for them, she said. ââTheyâre doing what they need to do. They should have broken away from Cabletron five years ago.ââ
Most important, from a marketing standpoint, the spinoff of Aprisma allows it to form partnerships with companies that formerly competed with Cabletron. Spectrum software, which locates problems in networks ranging from local area networks to Internet operations, is compatible with the equipment of numerous vendors, including Nortel Networks Corp. and 3Com Corp.
This key advantage wasnât marketed to its full potential while Spectrum was part of Cabletron. ââCertainly their hands were a bit tied as part of Cabletron to make a far reaching agreement with Cisco,ââ Gillooly said.
Darren Orzechowski, Aprismaâs VP-marketing, and his team are making up for lost time. Currently, Aprisma in on a road show with Cisco Systems Inc., which is introducing Spectrum to customers and partners. As a further sign of the chumminess of this partnership, Orzechowski points out that Aprismaâs ads are running in Packet Magazine, a Cisco in-house publication.
The freedom from Cabletron allows Aprisma to devote marketing communications dollars to promoting its products and services. The money being poured into the new campaign dwarfs previous expenditures. ââIn the past 10 years, weâve done four ads in total [for Spectrum], and three of those were by us in the past year,ââ Orzechowski said.
The campaign is running in BusinessWeek and several trade publications, such as Information Week. For help in branding the company, Aprisma turned to TFA/Leo Burnett Technology Group, Boston. The agency had created branding campaigns for other technology companies, including CMGI Inc. and Motorola Inc.
TFA/Leo Burnett has created six ads for the campaign, three focusing on Aprisma and three promoting the Spectrum brand. The campaignâs tagline is, ââManage what matters.ââ
The line has a dual meaning. It refers to managing the network, which in this Internet age, has become an element many companies need up and running at all times. Itâs a task that often requires extraordinary commitment by network managers and other technology professionals.
That brings us to the taglineâs second meaning. To keep the network functioning often requires long hours-long hours that may cause CIOs to miss, say, a childâs birthday, as one campaign ad implies. The message is that Spectrum software will quickly locate and identify any network problems, so it wonât require so much extra attention.
The selling proposition is emotional, and one that Jeff Winsper, president of the agencyâs Boston office, argues is the right one. ââItâs often difficult for technology clients to ... realize that they sell brands to people, they donât sell products to companies,ââ he said.
The success of this approach remains to be seen, but is becoming more common in the Internet age. B-to-b ads have become vehicles for emotional branding messages, and the rational, ââspeeds-and-feedsââ sell has been moved to company Web sites, which customers and prospects can consult when theyâre ready to buy.