Cisco introduces comic contest for ‘The Realm'

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In an effort to engage IT users, Cisco Systems this month introduced a contest that allows users to create their own online comic episodes. The contest is a continuation of Cisco's “The Realm” online campaign, created by Ogilvy & Mather, Los Angeles, that debuted in March.

The campaign uses superhero figures—with names like “Trace,” “Wall” and “Jux”—who fight such network security threats as hackers and malware.

“We wanted to continue the momentum and continue to generate the excitement that has been building since we launched it,” said Marie Hattar, VP-network systems and security at Cisco. “For the next phase of the campaign, we wanted to draw in our customers and let them tell us their stories using the ‘Realm' characters.”

Cisco is using online banner ads on sites including and, as well as social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, to promote the contest.

The ads drive users to a microsite at, where they can create their own comic episodes using the ‘Realm' characters and new security threats.

“A lot of this is really about continuing the conversation with our customers and using this as a medium to understand what they are looking for,” Hattar said. “This is an indirect way for us to learn about the problems they are trying to solve from a security standpoint.”

At the site, Cisco provides tools that let users draw scenes and write stories. Ten finalists will win Flip HD camcorders, and the winner—based on user votes—will receive a 55-inch LCD HDTV. The deadline for entry is Nov. 8.

In addition to the online contest, Cisco this month is sending people in costumes representing the “Realm” superheroes to schools in an effort to educate students about security issues, as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security.

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