The marketer of Internet networking products will preview the TV campaign this week on its Web site (www.cisco.com) and begin airing it Aug. 24. The spots will start in a handful of markets before expanding to national cable and spot TV in the top 20 markets in North America.
`ARE YOU READY?'
The bulk of Cisco's $20 million to $30 million TV budget will be spent in North America, though the marketer hopes to air the work in other areas of the world.
Cisco and longtime agency Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco, created one 60-second spot and three :30s. All feature culturally diverse, real people -- filmed in New Orleans, Spain, the U.K. and Vietnam -- reciting facts about the Internet explosion. "Are you ready?" each asks.
Cisco is mentioned only in the closing seconds of the spots, which note that virtually all Internet traffic travels across the "systems" of Cisco. The advertising continues the "Empowering the Internet generation" tag.
Susan Bruijnes, senior manager-advertising, said complementary brand print ads will break in the next 30 to 60 days; Cisco will spend about $20 million to $30 million on print, via Goldberg, and Web ads, via Miller Huber, San Francisco.
VP-Corporate Marketing Keith Fox said Cisco's Web site remains the centerpiece of communications; more than 60% of Cisco's sales come through e-commerce.
With the new campaign, Cisco wants to build a brand image as an Internet leader, reinforce brand value to business partners and extend the brand to consumers.
"One [goal] is to make the Internet relevant, and the other is to make Cisco synonymous with the Internet," Mr. Fox said.
Cisco is known in tech circles for the routers and other gear corporations, Internet service providers and communications suppliers buy to connect networks.
But Cisco is probably best known as a sizzling stock-market performer. As revenue soared from $69 million in 1990 to $8.5 billion for the year ended July 25, its stock market value rose to $100 billion, behind only Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. on NASDAQ.
"We're the most important company nobody has ever heard of," said Doug Wills, corporation communications group manager.
Cisco is competing in the converging world of data, video and voice networks, pitting it against such higher-profile players as Lucent Technologies and Northern Telecom.
"They have an opportunity to become a premier technology brand," said Mike Massaro, exec VP-chief operating officer at Goldberg. "They really want to own the new world -- the Internet -- and that's what this is about."
While the business customer is key, Cisco also wants to reach consumers. The first Cisco-labeled consumer product goes on sale this month: a cable modem for PCs. The modem is branded and sold by Sony, but includes an "Intel inside"-inspired "Cisco NetWorks" label.
Cisco is talking with consumer electronics giants such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. and Sony Electronics about additional products, including TV set-top boxes.
Cisco joins a host of tech companies doing brand campaigns to position themselves as Internet leaders.