Cisco System’s advertising campaign is very well produced. In fact, the production is so good it hides the fact that the idea is weak. The implied strategy of Cisco’s “human network” effort is to showcase all the good that happens over the internet and take credit for it. As the Internet infrastructure market leader, Cisco has decided to put a human face on the Internet and reap its benefit. It’s there way of showing Cisco is not a “cold technology” company and that applications drive technology.
The problem with glorifying humans, their actions, ideas, and deeds in your advertising is that you don’t differentiate the product. You celebrate it but don’t differentiate it. Certainly this builds awareness, familiarity, and a degree of loyalty, but the real kernels of differentiation that bind consumers to you are lost. It doesn’t pass the “Why do you like Cisco so much?” test. Were a new hardware vendor to come along with a faster switch, many of Cisco’s fans would be happy to listen. This campaign is the equivalent of the old AT&T “reach out and touch someone” campaign, which was great monopoly advertising.
The human network is an idea. And it plays well in the media. But it is not a branding idea.