Cisco gets animated to boost product awareness

SAN JOSE, CA: Cisco launched an online comic book series to generate momentum for its security products prior to a industry conference in April.

SAN JOSE, CA: Cisco launched an online comic book series to generate momentum for its security products prior to a industry conference in April.

“The Realm,” launched March 3, is a four-part online series developed with comic-book animation. Each episode raises issues surrounding security threats, like identity theft and malware, that are averted by comic book heroes, said Marie Hattar, VP of marketing.

“The idea was, it would drive the readership to look for products that could [protect them] in real life,” she added.

Cisco created the effort using comic-style vignettes because its market research showed that security buyers enjoy comic books and online games. Plans include developing more episodes if the first four are well-received, Hattar noted.

“This is a matter of understanding what our customers are looking for,” she said. “And combining vehicles that really appeal to them with our key messages and let them know we're excited about our security portfolio.”

Last year, Microsoft also used a comic for product promotion.

Ogilvy's ad division helped develop the materials, and Cisco's internal PR team is leading communications tasks for the effort.

Another objective of the campaign is to build buzz for Cisco's products prior to RSA, the security industry trade conference. Cisco plans to unveil the final episode of the four-part series at RSA.

To garner interest, Cisco is targeting advertising and marketing trades to raise awareness about the series, which is designed to be spread virally among security buyers. It also set up Facebook pages for the series' heroes. The next phase of the campaign will involve more actively updating these pages to solicit interest from Cisco's existing security community on the social network.

“We're really looking to leverage all the Web 2.0 media, including YouTube and Twitter, to drive people to our site,” Hattar said.

She added that the company opted to use two-dimensional comic-book style to help position Cisco as a marketing leader.

“It's a new category of comic book design with a new look and feel,” Hattar said. “Going forward, you're going to see more ‘fun' campaigns for our buying centers.”

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