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Case Study: How to Spark Fanatical Engagement and Advocacy by Heroically Tapping Into User Interests

by Kimberly Smith  |  
July 21, 2009

Company: Cisco Systems
Contact: Marie Hattar, Vice-President of Marketing, Network Systems and Security Solutions
Location: San Jose, CA
Industry: Computer hardware and software
Annual revenue: $39,500,000,000
Number of employees: 66558

Quick Read

Forget the norms. For Cisco Systems, reinvigorating its security line and authenticating its leadership position meant taking risks, challenging the usual conventions of its marketing programs, and finding novel ways to engage its target market where they work and play.

So Marie Hattar, VP of marketing for the company's Network Systems and Security Solutions unit, tried turning the whole 80/20 promotion/creative-spend equation upside down. Rather than investing 80% of the company's campaign budget in media buys, she put it toward crafting a unique and entertaining user experience that played heavily into user hobbies and interests. She then leveraged social media to supplement her modest media buys and help users spread the word for free.

The campaign, which featured superheroes characterizing the company's product strengths, became a paranormal phenomenon all its own, achieving high levels of engagement and a die-hard enthusiasm among fans that has even led to new merchandising opportunities for the company.


Cisco Systems is a global provider of Internet networking and security solutions for businesses big and small. Its suite of IT security systems includes hardware appliances, software, security as a service, and risk-assessment services. It is designed to help companies minimize security and compliance risk, prevent data loss, and quickly respond to emerging security threats.

Early in 2009, the company sought to both reinvigorate interest in its line of security systems among its target market of IT professionals and validate its position as category leader.

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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via

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