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Special Project
From the 10th Annual Shorty Awards

#TheNetworkIntuitive: Cisco Activates the New Network with a Digital Launch

Finalist in Technology, Business to Business

Entered in Gamification


In 2017, Cisco changed forever how we think about the network. Ushering this new era in networking, Cisco ignited The Network. Intuitive (TNI) launch with a digital strategy creating the fastest ramping of a new product introduction in Cisco history, and brought unprecedented advancements in delivering intent-based networking for customers. With a digital mindset from the start – through social media and web, omnichannel content and connecting with digital influencers -- this launch was different than anything Cisco has done before. While there were many successful aspects to this launch, two programs in particular engaged customers and employees to get actively involved.

Gamifying with the Mars Challenge

Cisco created a competitive gaming experience designed to educate customers, partners, and employees with hands-on interactivity of the Digital Network Architecture (DNA) Center. The Mars Challenge objective was to boost awareness and education of the new software solution via demos, increase engagement points on, and build measurable sales leads for Cisco's networking solutions while providing a fun experience.

Tapping into Cisco's Social Ambassadors

Cisco's Social Ambassadors are a global presence, representing a variety of regions, market segments, and business functions, including technical and nontechnical roles. Social Ambassadors have the opportunity to learn from and interact with social media experts, SMEs and other ambassadors in "The Hub," which provides resources and opportunities to engage on behalf of Cisco. Serving as an ambassador helps employees grow their professional brand, build a social footprint, and make new connections.

Strategy and Execution

In launching the new network, Cisco didn't just announce a new product. TNI was one of the most significant breakthroughs in enterprise networking that redefined the category. A successful global digital launch requires exciting new experiences, compelling content and a social-native community ready to share the message. Cisco was able to tap into the passion of customers, partners and employees and get them actively getting involved in the story in fun and meaningful ways.

Unlike previous campaigns, the digital launch approach allowed Cisco to reach 36 countries in 21 different languages on Day 1 – Cisco's largest global launch ever.

MARS CHALLENGE: Showing people how technology makes things easier is a lot more fun than simply telling them. The challenge let players navigate point-driven and leaderboard-inspired network challenges about the red planet that are actually self-service demos. These demos let players experience the simplicity of managing complex networks with Cisco solutions in a unique 'try before you buy' experience.

The challenge strategy was to educate customers, partners, and employees on how Cisco's networking solutions can make it easier to manage, build, and deploy a network. Metric goals were to increase the number of players and registrants, as well as the number of people who play the challenge (i.e. numbers of demos taken); get bookings; increase social shares; drive additional content consumption.

Cisco featured the game on the main landing page throughout the campaign and it has since become one of the most popular pages on the Cisco site. With the success of the Mars Challenge, Cisco is beginning to expand the game into other areas of its portfolio.

Play the game at:

SOCIAL AMBASSADORS: Great content and creative experiences can fall flat without a passionate community ready to share the story and personalize the narrative. Cisco ignited the TNI launch story digitally and empowered employees to be part of the excitement with their social networks. This Internal program enables, activates and rewards Cisco employees who share their knowledge and expertise with their friends, customers, and partners through their social networks. By engaging the Cisco culture to share meaningful content, the program has grown from 2,000 to 20,000 in just two years -- and all the while helping to dive better business outcomes for Cisco.

Industry statistics indicate that customers have high trust in company employees, and that messages resonate deeply when they hear directly from the internal community. Cisco provided the tools, content, and support for the Ambassadors program, including more than 280 sharable posts throughout the campaign (June – December). The ambassador community played a crucial role in sharing the network story highlighting the launch journey through the eyes of employees. Facets of the network launch story were shared with employees through the Ambassadors Hub, including real-time news updates, video, gamification and educational content across myriad social channels globally.


The digital strategy introducing the new network broke records, scored millions of impressions and transformed the networking category.

The Mars Challenge:

*Cisco measures engagement points as total exposure, interaction and desired action for a piece of content, it's the sum of reach + interaction + action.

The Cisco's Social Ambassadors program proves internal communities add business value, connecting the narrative through the eyes of employees, Cisco's most valued asset.

2017 Total Social Ambassador Hub:

Ambassador Hub: The Network. Intuitive Results (June 20- Dec. 31)

First 30 days of the network launch:

The network launch campaign overall:


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