More than a month into a nationwide shutdown, our world is a different place is countless ways. Among them is a spring without live sports—not to mention the postponement of the Tokyo Summer Olympics to 2021. However, one of the better changes has been getting to know more about our coworkers’ home offices, families and pets than we ever thought possible, thanks to videoconferencing.
Technology conglomerate Cisco is focusing on these two major themes of the pandemic in its new campaign, #LifeonWebex, created with sports agency Octagon. Through the lens of Webex, Cisco’s at-home videoconferencing platform, the brand has partnered with professional athletes to share their relatable experiences of working from home—which, in their case, includes connecting with quarantined fans.
“All aspects of life are happening over video these days: We’re having happy hours, we’re having church services, everything you can imagine is now happening over web conferencing,” said Ashley Marusak, marketing manager for global sponsorships at Cisco. “This [campaign] is a product of what’s happening in the world right now.”
Without live sports and the broadcast advertising opportunities they provide, brands are hoping to connect with stuck-at-home athletes who’ve seen their seasons shelved due to the shutdown. In fact, the thirst for content is so strong that ESPN took to airing a star-studded NBA Horse competition—to mixed results.
Cisco soft-launched the first component of the campaign, in partnership with Golf.com, last week across its social channels and on the golfing website. The ad resembles an episode of MTV Cribs starring golf pros, who take fans through a tour of their homes and highlight memorabilia along the way. The first episode featured golf personality Erik Anders Lang talking about the course where he landed his first hole-in-one.
The brand is also hosting a daily challenge among its athletes, such as trick shots, set to launch next week.
The second component of the campaign, launched today, matches players from New York City FC, the city’s Major League Soccer franchise, including goalie Sean Johnson and defender Anton Tinnerholm with their most obsessed fans—some of whom happen to be serving on the front lines of New York’s fight against coronavirus.
While Cisco’s campaign is timely, Zoom, a similar work-from-home platform started by a former Cisco engineer in 2011, has dominated the coronavirus videoconferencing scene. But all that attention hasn’t entirely been glowing: Last week, Zoom’s CEO apologized after reports of security lapses.
But Cisco’s Webex product, which is more than a decade older than Zoom, actually drew more than 100 million more users to its platform in March than Zoom did, according to the company: 324 million to Zoom’s 200 million.
The two different examples of Cisco’s strategy—the lighter stuck-at-home content and the acknowledgment of first responders—is a clear example of how a brand can straddle the line when releasing a campaign during the sensitive times of a global pandemic.
Much has been made of the different ways athletes and brands can work together to engage with fans and weather the coronavirus. Now, Cisco’s created a template that can head in any direction, with any athlete or personality.
“LeBron, Tom [Brady], call me if you want Webex—we’re happy to get you on,” Marusak said. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”