Cisco Systems has been dubbed ’the biggest company you’ve never
heard of’. Historically it has had a very low profile relative to its
size, despite it being ranked one of the top ten businesses in the world
by market capitalisation.
That was all very well when Cisco was marketing itself solely within the
IT industry, but now that it is pushing small- to medium-sized business
and even going direct to the consumer it is embarking on a massive
marketing drive - using both TV and the press.
Cisco supplies more than 80 per cent of the network equipment for
carrying internet traffic, but until recently was virtually unknown
outside the specialist IT market.
Cisco’s advertising campaign seeks to raise awareness of the internet,
and uses the core theme ’Are you ready?’. The rationale for the
marketing campaign is that - with internet growth set to explode - Cisco
must promote its brand far more than it has done to date. Cisco has
spent over pounds 400,000 on press advertising in the first nine months
of 1999 and over pounds 200,000 in October alone.
The ad buying strategy in September and October targeted publications
not usually used by Cisco, such as the Evening Standard, Metro, Daily
Mail, Daily Telegraph and The Times. The creatives have a range of
themes, including ’Human IT from Cisco’, ’Lower your handicap, do
business with us’, and ’Business e-fficiency solutions from Cisco’. Most
of Cisco’s press ads in the broadsheets have been full-colour full pages
Of course, it would be foolish for Cisco to abandon its core market
while chasing after Joe public. Accordingly Cisco continued to spend
with the business magazines that reach its target audience. VNU’s
Computing picked up pounds 34,083, while rival Computer Weekly landed
pounds 24,679. Network News profited handsomely, with Cisco spending
pounds 32,243 on the title, while IT Week received pounds 29,317.
Cisco estimates that internet connections will soar in Europe from 142
million in 1998 to 562 million by 2003, and believes that Europe can
lead the world in the adoption of internet connection via mobile phones,
televisions, and, eventually, devices such as cars and
With these predictions in mind, Cisco is backing up its advertising
campaign with new partnerships with other technology suppliers including
IBM, Sun Microsystems and Motorola. Cisco is also looking to work with
Ericsson and Nokia.
As Cisco moves increasingly towards the consumer and small to medium
sizes business markets, it is also using its own success in technology
usage as an example to others. Since the early 1990s Cisco has used its
own internet servers and routers to connect it to all its employees,
customers, business partners and suppliers and has thus managed to
quadruple in size since 1994 without a proportionate increase in
Research by Media Monitoring Services, tel: 01344-627553