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Cisco London 2012 Sponsorship – More Than Choirboy Hair

- September 8, 2011 - 5 Comments

There was a period in our house when Roger Black could do no wrong.  The young, tall, handsome runner with the choirboy hairstyle from Portsmouth had won medals at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and in my wife and her friend’s eyes had an effect akin to that which Achilles must have had on all the Greek women while they waited to hear of his success at Troy. So it was with some curiosity that I met Roger for the first time in his capacity as one of our London 2012 Olympic Ambassadors. Would he still have the athlete’s demeanour, a taught spring ready to tear out of the starting blocks or pounce on an  unsuspecting Trojan? Would the choirboy hair deny his 45 years?

I joined the Cisco UK & Ireland team fairly late into our London 2012 journey in August 2011 following four years in Cisco’s Services business in California and Europe.  I had been lucky enough in my earlier career while working for a consumer brand to sponsor the British Bobsleigh team across a period of two winter Olympics, culminating in a medal at Nagano. I knew the excitement that comes from involvement in world-class sport and while I had not been involved in the early decisions around Cisco’s sponsorship, I was very much looking forward to being involved in probably the only Olympics and Paralympics that will take place during my lifetime in Britain.

For Cisco, London 2012 is all about leveraging network technology to create a better Britain, a brilliant future as we see it. London 2012 is the starting gun for us, not the finishing tape as so many other sponsors see it. The legacy is what it’s all about, not just 5 weeks of incredible sporting challenge. So when we look at our 2012 marketing strategy, we always keep the end goal in mind. It is a tall order; we want to focus on the future beyond 2012 and at the same time benefit from the excitement and opportunity before and during the Games.

So how have we approached our marketing strategy for London 2012?

Classical marketing teaches you that focus on the customer comes first and in our approach we have carefully segmented our audiences; Enterprise, Service Providers, Public Sector, SMB, Partners and our employees. From that foundation it has been much easier to build a marketing strategy that delivers on our overall business VSE for London 2012 (Vision, Strategy & Execution statement) against each of these audiences.

Which brings me neatly back to Roger. We have three 2012 ambassadors; Roger, Tim Brabants (defending Canoe Sprint Gold medallist) and Rachel Morris (defending Paralympic Hand Cyclist Gold medallist).  Each of them has impeccable sporting heritage and success as British athletes and each of them have a very personal story. Roger has retired and now runs a business motivation company as well as regularly appearing as a TV presenter, Tim is a qualified doctor working in Accident & Emergency, and Rachel’s determination to compete at international level following the onset of her disability just stops you in your tracks. With such diversity of personality within the three of them, we tailor their involvement to our marketing activations accordingly.

I met Roger for the first time, when he came for an introductory meeting at our offices last Autumn to meet the Cisco team and discuss how best he could help us. He still looks tall and slim. The choirboy hairstyle still adorns his head and bounces with youth as he talks. The women in the office still saw Achilles in their presence. And to be honest so did I; he’s charming, articulate and very genuine. He still loves sport, is excited by London 2012 and very much attuned to our objective of making Britain a brilliant place to live, work and play. 

So far, Roger has spoken at a Cisco dinner for Chief Information Officers (CIO’s), been a keynote speaker at Cisco Live!, run motivational workshops for Cisco customers and Cisco employees and most recently supported our PR day to key media  for the  ‘London 2012 – One Year to Go‘ celebrations. And with one year to go, I can see his, Tim and Rachel’s involvement stretching out across our marketing activities. What delights me most about our partnership with these athletes is that it’s genuine: we are not just leveraging our association to promote our brand alongside their profile and fame.  In Tim’s hospital we have installed a Cisco medical grade network infrastructure solution that significantly increase the number of patients they can treat in A&E, we have run a competition for East London schools to design Rachel’s first website with proposals as good as any professional creative agency and Roger’s motivational day for our own European Marketing team was voted by the employees as the best ever held.

For more information  in Cisco’s role in L2012 go to


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  1. Outstandingly insightful cheers, I'm sure your current subscribers may perhaps want a lot more blog posts like this continue the excellent work.

    • Thanks John, I hope to add a new Blog in a couple of weeks.

  2. The thought occurred to me before I had read this article; "Where is Cisco in this social media explosion?"Now it's official. I have seen Cisco be a leading innovator from a consumer and even a competitor's stand point since the late 1990's on Tasman Avenue, in Santa Clara. Even before we were sold to Cisco, we were using VoIP! I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cisco Systems and this article just assures me they will achieve their market share and then some!

  3. Thanks Greg for your comment, the customer always has to be the focus.

  4. Your right the customer comes first. I like your marketing strategies.