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BtoB's Best Marketers: Blair Christie, Cisco Systems

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Cisco Systems embarked on its latest rebranding after some reflection. “We knew we had something powerful with our current brand,” said Blair Christie, Cisco's chief marketing and communications officer, worldwide government affairs. However, research indicated that while the company was well-known for networks, that wasn't the case with its capabilities as a strategic partner. The “Internet of Everything,” a campaign from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, that debuted last year, seeks to change that. Tagged “Tomorrow starts here” and aimed at C-suite executives, the campaign includes TV, print, online and social media; it uses dynamic imagery and statistics to show how the Internet is transforming people's lives. Cisco designed the campaign to be “digital-first,” Christie said, noting that print ads used scanner codes to link to online videos, infographics and content describing how the company's technology helps transform everything from people's homes and commutes to agriculture and healthcare. Partnering with Wired Publishing, Cisco rolled out a crowd-sourced tablet edition of Wired called The Connective, which includes content showing Cisco's role in connecting people in a futuristic magazine format. It also created a Flipboard Futuristic Feed, a collection of forward-looking articles updated daily. The inaugural Internet of Things World Forum will take place in Barcelona, Spain, later this month. So far, the campaign is working, Christie said, adding that it's getting such positive feedback that it has exceeded b-to-b branding benchmarks and is now being measured against consumer ads. “Every year we're going to take the conversation deeper, with a stronger call to action,” she said. Having served as an official supporter of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Cisco will take a similar role at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “Rio is definitely in our sights right now,” Christie said.
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