Cisco is counting on its first major brand marketing campaign for 18 months to beat off fierce competition and gain market share in the sectors it believes will lead the industry out of recession.
The marketing blitz, due to start in January or February next year, will see a greater emphasis on the SME sector, which Cisco believes will be first to come out of the downturn.
The campaign also comes at a time when Cisco's former reseller Dell may be looking to move into the networking space, possibly launching its own networking line in the UK in November (CRN, 16 September).
"It is our first major campaign since the 'Are you Ready?' adverts," said Mark De Simone, Cisco's vice-president. "We do almost all of our business through partners and any demand generation we do is for our partners to leverage."
Keith Humphreys, consultant at EuroLAN Research, said the marketing move was "very significant".
Last week Cisco dropped Dell as an authorised reseller and has listed Dell, along with 3Com, Lucent, Ericsson and Nortel, as a competitor in its annual report, filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
However, De Simone played down the danger from Dell. "The Dell model treats the network like a commodity. It is not a commodity," he said.
He also rejected the idea that Cisco had previously failed in the SME market, pointing out that the sector provided 25 per cent of the firm's revenues.
Humphreys added: "Cisco has had challenges in the SME area, which has been a failing [in the past].
"However, while there's logic in the view that the SME sector will be the first to emerge from the recession, it is by no means certain."
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