Stranger Things Star Appears in Cisco Collaboration Campaign
Collaboration lessons from the Upside Down
“What makes us human?”
That first phrase spoken by Stranger Things star, Millie Bobby Brown, draws immediate focus to the theme of Cisco’s latest marketing push. The ad pushes viewers to think about the rise of collaboration tools in the workplace as more than just another way to improve profits and ensure differentiation. While collaboration apps have their “logical” benefits, there’s something distinctly emotional about their appeal too – and who better to tap into our emotions than the girl from the most nostalgic show to hit the media in the last decade?
On the surface, workplace collaboration is an essential part of the productivity package in a digitally-connected world. However, as the concept of UC&C grows more complex, there’s an increasing risk that feature-rich collaboration tools might become too confusing and overwhelming to realistically use. That’s why companies like Cisco are pushing their R&D budgets into creating something that’s not only innovative but accessible too.
Collaboration and The Evolution of Human Interaction
If you haven’t already seen Stranger Things, you definitely should. It’s one of my favourite shows of all time, not just because it has an incredible “retro vibe”, but because it also addresses what it means to be human, and how we connect with each other on a basic level. Perhaps that’s what makes Millie Bobby Brown such a great choice for this ad. Not only is she incredibly easy to resonate with as an actor, but she also has an essence of wisdom about her that isn’t arrogant or overwhelming.
According to the CMO of Cisco, Karen Walker, Millie’s youth as a 14-year-old actor is part of why the company chose her. The organisation is trying to maintain a “fresh” look, which is something that Millie certainly has. The new ad also represents a significant shift in messaging for the company. While Cisco has always been a very business-to-business focused brand, they know that end-users also have a significant impact on which software a company chooses to buy. If a brand doesn’t appeal to the end user, then it’s probably not going to appeal to a company either.
In fact, according to Walker, Cisco’s research indicated that it’s generally the “end-user” that’s in the driver’s seat. The more they crave new and innovative tools from their providers, the more companies are forced to re-evaluate their digital transformation strategy.
Following the “Walk-and-Talk” Style
The ad, which was created by agency Ogilvy – a relatively well-known marketing company, follows the successful “walk-and-talk” strategy that Cisco has used in their placements before. In years gone by, we’ve seen Ewan McGregor whimsically speaking about the amazing things that the human species has accomplished over the years. We’ve also encountered Peter Dinklage (another favourite character from a much-loved show of mine) taking a darker approach to the walk-and-talk format.
Brown offers both something familiar and something entirely unique to the Cisco marketing strategy. Her ad isn’t quite as dark and gothic as the spot featuring Dinklage, but it isn’t as delightful and sunny as the Ewan McGregor ad either. Instead, we have something that’s beautifully fresh from an actor who’s just beginning to find her feet in a world of opportunities. Just like Brown, the tone of the advert is hopeful and inspiring, it looks towards a brighter future where we can all connect with each other more seamlessly than ever before.
The campaign launched in the US on the 22nd of May, and it’ll be coming to the rest of the world this month. Personally, I think it’s a fantastic move by Cisco and an incredible way for them to show their customers what they’re all about. With Millie, they’ve got that nostalgic, yet fresh character that perfectly represents the combination between the heritage of the Cisco brand, and the exciting possibilities of the future.