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Cisco Systems, Inc., the world's largest producer of Internet switches and routers, released advertising prior to 2004 that simply encouraged people to use the Internet more. As Internet use increased, more Cisco hardware was needed to expand Internet networks. Between 2002 and 2004 Cisco acquired six Internet-security companies, including Protego Networks, Inc., for a combined price of $339 million. At first Cisco was incorporating Internet-security technologies into its own products only to boost consumers' confidence in the Internet's ability to stop destructive hackers, viruses, Trojans, and worms. Because Cisco's Internet security proved, however, to be more effective than actual Internet-security providers, Cisco decided to offer Internet security as a separate service from its switches and routers. To persuade information technology (IT) departments and their corporate officers to start purchasing Cisco's Internet security systems, Cisco launched its "The Self-Defending Network" campaign.
The advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather released the $20 million campaign across television, radio, print, direct mail, and the Internet in early 2004. Instead of showing Cisco's security systems protecting other technology, commercials featured Cisco security systems protecting people. In the spot "Sarah's Escapade," for example, an executive told his daughter, "I'll be right back, honey," just before leaving her unsupervised in his office. The bored girl began clicking on her father's computer mouse until a message popped up on his monitor stating, "Worm Detected." The young girl panicked. "Worm Isolated," was the computer's next message, followed by "Worm Destroyed." The girl threw up her arms in celebration. The spot ended with the voice-over, "Defending the network from human nature. This is the power of the network. Now."
Not only did the campaign garner a Gold EFFIE Award in the computer software category in 2005, but the industry-analysis firm Millward Brown showed a 950 percent increase in the business audience's willingness to use Cisco for IT security. Cisco's share in the security-provider market jumped seven points, and Cisco Systems totaled $175 million in sales for 2004.
Besides being one of the Nasdaq's fastest-growing stocks during the late 1990s, Cisco was also the world's leading producer of switches and routers that directed traffic across the Internet. In 1998 Cisco released advertising that encouraged Internet usage, which in turn increased the demand for Cisco's hardware. Two years later Cisco's ad agency, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc., introduced a $43.8 million campaign with the tagline "Empowering the Internet generation." The campaign's
television spots, including one titled "Factory," featured Cisco's hardware increasing businesses' Internet usage, which indirectly boosted the businesses' profits.
After the technology sector plummeted in late 2000, Cisco did not release a campaign for almost three years. In June 2002 Cisco awarded its advertising account to DarkGrey, the technology unit of Grey Global Group. For its first few months doing business with Cisco, DarkGrey developed a campaign with the tagline "Advancing the human network." None of the DarkGrey advertisements were actually released, however. When Marilyn Mersereau became Cisco's new vice president for corporate marketing in late 2002, she turned Cisco's advertising account over to Ogilvy & Mather, an agency she had worked with as vice president of global advertising at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
In 2003 Ogilvy & Mather released the largest campaign in Cisco's history, the $10-$150 million...