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Cisco, Dell share brand evolution stories at ANA

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Cisco Systems and Dell Inc. figured prominently in last month's Association of National Advertisers' annual conference in Orlando, Fla., as each shared how its brand has been evolving. For Cisco this evolution has meant a big push into video, as well as stepping up its b-to-c marketing. “We think at Cisco that video is the next big play,” Marilyn Mersereau, Cisco senior VP-corporate marketing, said in her presentation. “That is why mobile is so important. The next big thing for marketers is to figure out the mobile space.” Mersereau showed off the company's telepresence conferencing technology in a live video discussion with former NHL star Brendan Shanahan, who now works in the league's front office as VP-hockey and business development. Shanahan, who was speaking from New York, told how the NHL has been using Cisco's technology to gather video from around the league to post on NHL.com. On the b-to-c side, Cisco recently introduced u¯mi, its video system for the home; u¯mi is being marketed through ads featuring actress Ellen Page using the technology. “The human network becomes even more human and powerful with video,” Mersereau said, alluding to Cisco's well-known tagline. For Dell, the evolution has involved a multiyear initiative to revive what it considered to be a flagging brand. The company is moving forward with a new positioning: “The power to do more.” “We were confused about who we are and what we're about,” former Dell CMO Erin Mulligan Nelson said in her presentation. “We found that our brand had actually splintered.” In seeking to turn its own brand around, Nelson said, Dell studied those of companies it admired, including Procter & Gamble Co., Southwest Airlines and British retailer Marks & Spencer. “The thing they all stood for was making a difference in the world,” she said. Nelson said Dell recognized it, too, was making a difference by following a philosophy that came down from company founder Michael Dell: “The idea that technology shouldn't be a privilege.” After working over the past year to emphasize its sense of purpose through internal marketing to its 96,000 employees, Dell is now readying its external marketing push. Nelson, who is now CMO of social commerce solutions company Bazaarvoice, was joined onstage after her remarks by her successor, Karen Quintos, who elaborated on the success of Dell's employee marketing effort. “They have to own the brand—and they do own the brand and they live the brand,” Quintos said.
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