Cisco “Flips” in the Midst of Recession

October 15, 2010

By Guest Blogger, Karen Hornberger, Allstate Insurance Company

This morning Marilyn Mersereau, Senior VP, Corporate Marketing, Cisco Systems, Inc. showed us a "live" demo of remote conferencing technology "TelePresence." Brendan Shanahan joined us remotely and it felt like he was in the room! Brendan shared plans to put the technology into every NHL hockey rink to allow fans real time interviews with players-pretty cool. Of course, there are lots of everyday business implications too, like saving on travel costs by meeting remotely vs. in person. This is one example of the Cisco brand purpose that Marilyn shared: "changing the way we live, work, play and learn."

Marilyn showed samples of how Cisco has stretched a limited budget to get the most "bang for the buck." She showed examples of branded entertainment in TV shows like 24 and NCIS. The product placement was seamless and at our table, we made a game out of trying to "find" the advertising. As Marilyn explained, and we all agreed, these types of executions have to be a good fit so that it doesn't feel "weird." In what we saw, it wasn't weird at all, but the opposite, it felt like a natural fit in the shows.

The other product demo was the Cisco umi (pronounced "you me"), which is an affordable "at home" conference technology and allows families to be together when they aren't in the same place or for colleagues to connect to collaborate remotely. As a mom of a 2-year-old on a 3 day business trip, I can relate to how nice it would be to say "goodnight" on a video feed vs. a cell phone tonight!  Marilyn encouraged us to purchase umi "only if you love your mother."

The presentation revealed the emotional and human connection that can be made with the use of video. I plan to take Marilyn's advice for what to do first thing on Monday back at the office which is to think of an emotional connection for my brand with my customer.  And then to create a plan to make that connection. 


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