Case Detail

Case Summary

Cisco Systems: Launching the ASR 1000 Series Router Using Social Media Marketing

Case Number: 5-111-008, Year Published: 2011

HBS Number: KEL579

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Key Concepts

Digital Marketing, Social Networks, Product Launch, New Media, Marketing Communication, Social Media Marketing, B2B Marketing


This case focuses on Cisco Systems’ innovative probe-and-learn approach to using social media to launch its ASR 1000 Series Edge Router. The company had decided to eschew traditional print and TV media in marketing the new product and had decided instead to focus its efforts entirely on digital marketing and social media to attract the attention of its target market. The case discusses Cisco’s bold plan to launch the ASR 1000 Series “virtually, visually, and virally” and the digital tactics employed by the Cisco Systems marketing team to accomplish this ambitious goal. Business marketers normally adopt a more serious and traditional approach to marketing its products but in this case Cisco had decided to buck that trend by exploring digital tools and social gaming avenues which its target client – the technical community – were increasingly frequenting. Cisco’s challenge lay in whether this new approach and resultant value proposition would resonate with its technical audience and give the ASR 1000 Router the kind of publicity it needed to have. The case is set at a time when social media was burgeoning as a promising way to engage consumers more deeply with brands and products, but marketers were still experimenting with the tools and tactics of social media for marketing.

Learning Objectives

• Understand the relevance of social media for product launches as a function of contextual factors such as nature of product, media habits, and company credibility.
• Learn about the applicability of social media for business marketers in terms of its uniqueness, advantages and challenges.
• Recognize the relationship between campaign objectives and the value proposition for the product.
• Understand the evolution of social media marketing from a probe-and-learn approach to a strategy-driven process. The initial test and learn approach must be enhanced and become more strategic in the future.

Number of Pages: 16

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Marketing, Technology

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Global

Industry: Communications and Networking

Organization Name: Cisco Systems

Organization Department: Strategic Marketing

Organization Size: Large

Decision Maker Position: Manager of Web and Social Media Marketing

Decision Maker Gender: Female

Year of Case: 2009