Last night, I was watching the Dodgers humiliate the Mets in a disappointing shutout, when an interesting ad came on in the middle of the seventh.
“While you’re watching this,” says the spot’s creepy lead, “I’m hacking your company.”
It’s a Cisco ad, one of the latest in the company’s recent TV advertising blitz. Cisco is planning big moves in the security space, recently offering to acquire hybrid cloud security firm OpenDNS. Incoming CEO Chuck Robbins hopes to take the company’s market share in security from 9 percent to 20-30 percent, analysts have reported.
The initiative kicked off at Cisco Live last month, where the company unveiled a network-wide approach to security that uses the entire network as a security sensor, rather than one product. Some critics have pointed out that a network-wide security solution could offer Cisco a new form of vendor lock-in against open networking trends.
The placement of the “Hackers” ad on a regional sports network in New York suggests to me that it’s targeted less at IT buyers than at boardroom executives. Nationally, it’s aired 626 times, according to tracking firm iSpotTV. Cisco hasn’t responded to an inquiry about the ad.
An interesting side note: The campaign’s slogan — “We’re ready, are you?” — is eerily reminiscent of Cisco’s tag line in the late 90s: “Are you ready?”
Chambers has repeatedly compared current IT transformation and the emerging Internet of Things to the early days of the Internet, when Cisco became for a time the largest company in the world, in terms of stock valuation.
The original “Are you ready” campaign, retired in 2000, helped the company become a household name.
At the time, Jere Brooks King, then a Cisco vice president for world-wide marketing, told The Wall Street Journal: “We’re at the point where people are saying, ‘Enough already! We are ready. Show us how.'”
Here’s the ad itself: