Cisco’s San Francisco Billboard Is Absolutely Destroying the Competition

Marketing Masterpieces: short essays on product marketing

The billboards on Highway 101 are signs of the times.

On the road from Silicon Valley to San Francisco you’ll see dozens of ads from star tech companies. Right now, categories such as teleconferencing, email marketing, and AI each have multiple companies competing for your attention with billboards.

There are also several companies in the suddenly hot infosec space vying for eyeballs.

logrhythm billboard messaging software

LogRhythm informs commuters: “They will get in. They can be stopped.” LogRhythm is a security information and event management (SIEM) vendor based in Boulder, CO, and has parked its message a few miles north of the airport.

Invincea marketing security software billboard

Just ahead is a billboard from Invincea, which explains that “you can’t defeat what you can’t detect.” As “the #1 performing next-gen antivirus”, Invincea is based in Fairfax, VA, and was recently acquired by Sophos.

Cylance marketing billboard highway 101

At the 101/280 split, Cylance instructs us to “prevent cyberattacks with artificial intelligence”. It’s the second of two billboards Cylance, a unicorn company from Irvine, CA, has on this stretch of road.

And then Cisco drops the hammer.

Cisco marketing leader billboard

The billboard is currently the last of dozens B2B technology ads on this famous highway. “50 different security vendors?” Cisco asks. “That’s like a house with 50 doors”.


Swallowed by the Leader

Cisco’s brilliant mic drop is a golden example of industry-leader marketing. Cisco says that mixing and matching security technologies, even from best-of-breed vendors, just creates new risks for your business. If you buy this argument, you will probably only buy security technology from Cisco because it may be the only company that can sell you a complete package of security products.

Cisco marketing leader security technologyAnd these other vendors only bolster Cisco’s ad. After seeing a billboard every minute for some kind of security technology, maybe you’re getting concerned about digital threats. You’re starting to think about what your business needs. But it’s hard to differentiate the other players based on their messages and branding. And just imagine the research and vetting you’ll have to do to understand their technologies, decide which you need, and get them to play nicely. Then Cisco comes along and reminds you that you can make one call, to a company you already know, and be done with it.

I’m sure Cylance, Invincea, and LogRhythm make excellent products. But Cisco just took them to school. Their top-dollar billboards are going to do little more than feed Cisco’s funnel.

One lesson for tech companies may be not to buy billboards out of town. All of these Cisco competitors are based outside the Bay Area. I suspect that some Cisco marketer, maybe on their drive home, noticed the pileup of security billboards and recognized an opportunity to drive home a winning message. A billboard can be put up in a few days if the space is available on a short-term basis.

Cisco has made awesome use of a premium billboard (one that Apttus had last year). Let’s see if it shakes up the B2B arms race on the road from Silicon Valley.


All photos taken by the author (not while driving).

A Day Out in New York

10_31_16-towerLovely readers, it’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything to this blog. Happily I’m getting a chance to share my musings with a wider audience at the Apttus blog, and I invite you to follow me there.

Recently I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Manhattan. There’s nothing like it—a place where the endless variety of human experience is on full display for you to pretend to ignore it.

You never know what you’re going to see.

A man is dancing and yelling along to the deep bass line of music coming from his stereo. “Yeah, yeah, OH YEAH,” he shouts, throwing his arms to the left and the right. Which would be unremarkable, except that the man is driving at the time, paying no obvious attention to the road as he blasts through a light at 26th and Lex. Perhaps he won the lottery.

On 9th Avenue, a man is eating at a sidewalk table of a bistro. With him are four poodles in a baby carriage, all dressed up in identical French sailor shirts with pink and white stripes. The man nuzzles the dogs and feeds them tidbits from his plate. An Asian tourist is trying to take photos discreetly, but it’s hard to hide a telephoto lens. This isn’t normal in his hometown?

Near Columbus Circle, a homeless man has dropped a lit cigarette into a shallow grate. He’s trying to fish it out with a stick of aluminum foil, and two young women are holding out fresh cigarettes to coax him up off his knees. “Take them, take them!” they insist. Walking by, I wonder if this street scene is a setup: Drop a lit loosey, accept charity of two more smokes from well-meaning pedestrians, walk a few blocks and repeat.

And on 5th Avenue, in front of Trump Tower, a man wearing a cartoon-poop hat is selling “Dump Trump” buttons. He tells me he’s sold thousands online, and while we’re speaking a tourist approaches to buy one. The button entrepreneur explains that he’s exempt from the usual vending laws because he is exercising free speech—I certainly see no evidence that a squad of New York’s finest, ten paces away, is paying him any mind. It’s capitalism and political commentary at their finest, but he’s not attracting nearly as much attention as the other protesters, who happen to be four dressed-up small dogs.


It’s just another day in New York.


All photos taken by the author.

This Will Be Your Next Home Robot

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Most of us were introduced to robots through the movies. But real robots don’t look and act like people, walking and speaking naturally. For the foreseeable future, the best a robot can do is do one thing well.

Which is why I was excited to learn that one of my favorite robotic technologies is finally coming to market, and will forever get rid of one of those annoying home tasks.

Foldimate is a robot that practically markets itselfFoldimate is a patented technology that folds your dry laundry, eliminating forever the hassle of folding clothes. It is a self-contained machine with roughly the same form factor as your existing washer and dryer.

I first had the pleasure of meeting Foldimate inventor and CEO Gal Rozov in 2013. I’ve seen dozens of novel consumer and commercial robotics ideas since then, yet Foldimate remains one of my favorites. I am thrilled to see Gal’s vision coming to market, and I think it will meet with well-deserved success.

You can now reserve a Foldimate for your home. So make space in your laundry room – your Roomba is getting a friend.

Product image courtesy of Foldimate