March 29, 2006 Magazines: House Of (rate) Cards
 

The New Crisco Print Campaign, er...We Mean Cisco...

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Restlessness, Powered By Cisco

They lead with an interesting, "stopping power-based" headline; a good way to capture interest. According to Cisco's new campaign, Cisco powers restlessness. That's very much true, though it's a surprising strategy to use as a reason to buy one's product.

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Buy this product to make yourself less comfortable, so that you can't sleep at night, can't focus enough to pay attention to your family, so you can be distracted so much by the miniscularity of office BS that you choose to forego peace and quiet in order to be in touch with every idiot that sends a CYA email out to "reply all." Sounds a bit Orwellian, so it's perfect to be coming from Cisco, a name closely like Crisco, the vegetable oil people put meat in to fry with. Technology can make one feel like their brains are fried... surely you've heard the expression, "I'm fried," which we normally use to express exhaustion, largely by technology. Hmmm...

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Isn't technology the reason we are so restless? Oxymorons such as “technology cures restlessness” are like saying "vacations cure relaxation."

Never mind that technology in itself has made us more jittery, being pinged, dinged, panged and banged with emails, IM, phone calls, RFP's, stupid client requests and (some of us) calls from headhunters.

Come to think of it, we can't be sure if headhunters were once called recruiters or just the reverse; that headhunters are now called headhunters.

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The term Headhunter creates a number of marvelous images. "Headhunter" calls to mind exotic cultures, where wise men, have vegetable-made clothes, wear cool make-up like "Kiss" and swing a big stick that looks like Steve Tyler's mike stand (from Aerosmith.) There's another name that's interesting. "Wilbur, I'd like you to meet Mike Stand..." ahh, we'll save that for another time.

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(art from CBSNews.com on armed forces recruitement story)

Getting back to headhunters, as we imagine them, they truly hunted for heads, like today's recruiters. It's ironic, what with Armed forces recruitment being at an all time low--which might make certain military personnel shy away from telling people what they do--for a "living"--at cocktail parties etc... Never before has it been true that recruiters today are more like headhunters than recruiters.

On the other hand, "Recruiters" call to mind, a slap on the back, "Hey Hubbell, come play cricket this weekend with us and join our crew squad. Buffy will be there." To "recruit" another person assumes that one appeals to a higher ideal within them; that you are giving another person a chance to join a team of people who are making the world a better place, like habitat for humanity or adopting a highway.

We give of ourselves because it feels good inside. It's the payoff. From it, once we realize the good that came out of the recruitment, most of us feel good. We feel "less restlessness" (say that 5 times fast.)

So ordinarily, one might assume that Cisco would promise to "reduce" Restlessness, not "power" it.

Productivity, Powered By Cisco

Another oxymoron is that Cisco closes with the equally ironic tagline detailed above in their print ad. The visual they use is of a pajama-clad, informally clothed, overly burdened techno-dude who has the weight of the world on his shoulders looking out from the top of a mountain and wondering how he's going to keep his job and/or manage dominating the world.

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Right there in his hand, ever so subtly, one may assume he is waiting with great restlessness for that call from the headhunter/recruiter. he's so restless that he can't even put the darn thing in his pocket. he's holding on to this black gadget of exquisite simplicity, for dear life.

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If you were his boss, a manager in your office sweating over keeping your company afloat, after reading this ad, it might get you to wonder what your sales force was doing at that very minute. Rather than provide reassurance, you might probably feel even more worried, since even though you can keep in touch with your sales people with frequent "what have you done for me lately in the last :90 seconds?" messages, since you made the decision to buy these expensive gadgets (that add nothing to your bottom-line) with the rationale that it would allow them to be more "productive" by not lying around the office, you begin to worry more than ever that Hubbell may not have been pinging you from the car in traffic as he said, or in the waiting room of the client about to close a company-saving deal as you thought.

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You begin to fear from staring at the ad that your entire sales force is out somewhere wearing more comfortable clothes than you are, standing unproductively in the middle of nowhere, thinking nothing other than waiting for that text message from that recruiter to call him (with a higher paying job) and thereby taking all your hard-earned contacts with him, to join the competition across the street all for a measly $10,000 raise you didn't give him (because you were suspicious that all he did was walk around wearing pajamas all day). Now he's going to eat your lunch, largely because of Crisco, I mean Cisco. You're toast.

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