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Marilyn Mersereau

Senior Vice President Corporate Marketing

In this “age of responsibility” how do you see your customer changing?

It’s an age of many changing cultural realities, and individuals are feeling more accountable and responsible for their communities and the issues facing the world today. Customers today value relationships, and the credibility that comes from these relationships, whether they are on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebookor actively involved in their community. Our customers are looking for ways to do more with the collaborative technologies available to them, and do it better for the benefit of their company, the community and the world. Successful companies are going to recognize the different cultural realities their customers are operating in, and the ones who acknowledge and engage with their customers in new ways are going to be the successful ones. As marketers, it is our job to ensure that we openly and candidly develop relationships with our customers. Be it through social action communities, engaging CSR programs, or through more mainstream marketing vehicles. It is important we show our message is relevant, genuine and applicable in every pocket of life.

What points can you share from your experiences that contribute in building a successful brand?

For Cisco, the success of the brand can be attributed to each positive experience that our customers have at every touchpoint. From our products and services to our technical support, marketing efforts and employees, we try to portray consistent brand attributes – in a way that is relevant to what is happening in the world.

It is all about Cisco’s longstanding vision of changing the way we work, live, play and learn and conveying that message in a way that is relevant to the times. In 2006 when we launched “Welcome to the Human Network,” it was all about showing the power of people coming together on social platforms and the wonderful things that connectedness enabled. In the past few years, we were hit with some challenging economic times, so we tweaked the campaign to really address “new ways to work” and talked about a better way to do business. The pragmatic turn to the campaign aligned with our company vision, but respected and acknowledged the major cultural reality of the time. Most recently, with the prevalence of video in communicating and connecting people with each other, the “Human Network” campaign reflected our desire to show how we are truly living in new ways. This was further enhanced by the “See It. Live It. Share It” campaign, and a number of complementary marketing programs around Tandberg, TelePresence, WebEx and Flip.

Today, our customers have changed. Everyone is a technology consumer and to stay relevant is to communicate our highest aspiration – our vision – in a meaningful way that engages our customers. You’ll see a new campaign from Cisco in September that recognizes the societal and cultural changes that are happening today to continue to aspire to Cisco’s vision of changing the way we work, live, play and learn.

How does your brand influence the decisions made at your organization?

It’s not necessarily about influencing the business decisions made, but making sure that the brand and business are aligned. Ideally, we want every business decision to consider the brand-related implications. Expansion into new markets, acquisitions and new products and solutions all take into account how we continue to build on the strength of the Cisco brand.

How have you adapted to the impact of technology and social media?

It’s been a learning experience for all marketers and we have embraced the opportunity to incorporate social media into our traditional marketing programs and corporate initiatives. Our business is connecting technology to people, so the growth and impact of social media is helping demonstrate how Cisco is truly changing the way we work, live, play and learn.

We’ve adapted with a lot of tactical adjustments incorporating the power of the network and the internet to do global, simultaneous launches, meetings and announcements that live on through communities that participate. We’ve expanded to reflect the desire of our online community to connect through video discussions and click-to-chat opportunities.

In addition to creating community environments for our technical and partner customers, we’ve also modified our event marketing model to include live, virtual and hybrid events that live on through our social media platforms. Most importantly, we are recognizing the need to listen and participate as “Cisco” and have developed teams in corporate communications, public relations and marketing to work together to ensure that Cisco is transparent and consistent wherever we participate.

How much of a role does corporate citizenship play in managing your brand?

In a time where relationships and affiliations help shape perceptions, Cisco continues to incorporate corporate social responsibility as part of our DNA. Since its inception as a company, Cisco has been focused on giving back to the community and the world, and shaping new ways to work, live, play and learn.

Today, our customers want to engage with us to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. From environmental issues to basic human needs, Cisco continues to leverage our expertise in technology to help address these challenges. A natural extension of our brand campaign is the One Million Acts of Green campaign (in partnership with Green Nexxus). Started in Canada in July of 2008, today there are almost two and half million pledges, or “acts of green,” from all around the world. This effort that began two years ago helped to make Cisco’s commitment to environmental issues real to our audiences. By leveraging the technology available, we were able to help reduce emissions, reduce waste and share ideas. It’s easiest to say that corporate citizenship is a part of our company vision, so it’s only natural and logical to ensure that Cisco demonstrates social responsibility.


Marilyn Mersereau, CiscoMarilyn Mersereau is Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Cisco Systems Inc. Since joining Cisco in July 2002, she has been responsible for the globally integrated marketing activities and systems infrastructure. Working with Ogilvy & Mather, Marilyn developed and launched Cisco's recent international advertising campaign, ”Welcome to the Human Network.” In addition, Marilyn manages a centralized marketing communications organization for Cisco, infusing integrated marketing philosophy into an improved collaborative marketing process.

Recognized as a leader in the marketing field, Marilyn has over 25 years of experience in leading worldwide marketing teams in several industries. She has developed substantial knowledge of technology through her eight-year tenure at IBM and six years at Cisco. At IBM, she held roles as Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications, VP of Advertising Worldwide, and VP of Marketing in Canada. In addition to assembling a world-class marketing organization at IBM, Marilyn won three Gold Effie Awards for Advertising and Campaign Effectiveness during her three years of running advertising globally for IBM. In addition to numerous other awards, Marilyn has been recognized by the Americas Marketing Organization for improving IBM’s lead management process as well as for the overall integration and effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

Prior to IBM, Marilyn established an impressive background in international marketing for widely recognized food and beverage companies including Coca-Cola  and Burger King International.