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Cisco kicks off $150 million ad push

The networking giant begins a $150 million advertising campaign in hopes of beating back new competition from makers of less-expensive gear.

Cisco Systems on Tuesday began a $150 million advertising campaign, hoping brand recognition--rather than price cuts--can beat back new competition from makers of less-expensive networking gear.

At the center of the campaign is what Cisco representatives refer to as a "manifesto," an eight-page insert slated for major newspapers that puts the spotlight on networks that use Cisco equipment. The advertisements, which include radio and television spots, focus on the growing prowess of an office computer network to provide video, voice and data services all at once, the company said Tuesday.

"We want people to think of the network in a new and interesting way," said Marilyn Merserea, a Cisco vice president. "The network has all this power to help companies collaborate, be more productive, be more agile, be mobile, be secure. You just have to unleash that potential."

The campaign, titled "This is the power of the network," was unveiled in January. The marketing push is partly a response to the emergence of competition for Cisco, CEO John Chambers said at the time.

Cisco sells more routers and switches--used to direct Internet traffic--than any other company. But new manufacturers selling cheaper equipment have recently come on the scene, and analysts have said they believe the San Jose, Calif.-based server and router maker will eventually have to take steps--including cutting prices--to deal with the lower-priced competition.