Program: Cisco myPlanNet Game
Agency: Somnio, Phame Factory, Austin, Texas
Why we chose it: The excitement about virtual worlds has died down considerably from a couple of years ago, but Cisco Systems has remained one of the technology's most visible supporters. With myPlanNet, the company demonstrates that simulations/virtual world games can not only be educational and fun but also relevant to business customers. Cisco showed considerable innovation in choosing this platform to reach a new generation of IT professionals who have grown up with joysticks in their hands. The idea of applying a simulation format to a story that is relevant to its audience's careers is ingenious. By watching players' activities and comments, the company will learn much about what engages these young professionals and how they will adapt principles like game-playing and simulation to their learning process. From an integrated campaign perspective, this project combined an impressive array of social destinations, including a Facebook page that drew more than 25,000 fans. Cisco has been a standout among b2b companies in building a major presence on Facebook, adopting video in nearly all dimensions of its marketing programs and applying Twitter strategically within its product and brand campaigns. Cisco brings these tools together with myPlanNet and the results—in the form of more than 23,000 downloads and extensive media attention—attest to the success of this remarkable b2b experiment. Cisco would have won points for innovation alone, but the results attest to the considerable business value of thinking outside the b2b box.
Program: Supply Chain Experts: Learn, Laugh, Share and Connect
Agency: Enquiro, Kelowna, British Columbia
Why we chose it: Kinaxis, an Ottawa-based supply-chain software company, hoped to drive awareness and double its leads in 2009 compared with 2008. Kinaxis began experimenting with social media to accomplish these goals. Using Enquiro (for search engine optimization and marketing help) and Forrester Research (for research into the field), Kinaxis carefully planned an integrated social media program that lived up to the hype. The company started a blog, built a community for supply chain management, participated in LinkedIn and used Twitter. The company's blog is 21st Century Supply Chain. Its posts, written by Kinaxis executives and employees, are also posted on the community Kinaxis built, the Supply Chain Expert Community. The company said it has four approaches on this community site: Learn, Laugh, Share, Connect. The “laugh” segment is particularly intriguing. Kinaxis developed online videos, such as “The Late Late Supply Show” and "Married to the Job," created by Second City. Recently, the company debuted an online series called “Suitemates,” which satirizes the practices of big enterprise software companies. The series stars Kevin Pollak, a comedian and actor who had a role in “The Usual Suspects,” as a software executive jailed for his company's dishonest practices. All of this is working: Kinaxis said it has experienced a more than threefold increase in leads. In addition, registered community members, who numbered 1,615 in February, reached 2,223 in early April.
Program: Microsoft joint launch, a.k.a. Feeds
Agency: Wunderman Network
Why we chose it: Sometimes, simple ideas are the best. Such is the case with Feeds, an application of RSS technology that has delivered more than 10,000 sales leads to Microsoft Corp. while providing a valuable informational resource for customers and prospects. It is a striking example of how a company is letting open access to the conversations surrounding its market drive sales, even if those conversations aren't unanimously positive. The concept behind Feeds is simply to tap into the existing stream of user commentary about Microsoft products and to organize that information in a way that delivers structured insight to readers. The interface is innovative, but doesn't sacrifice ease of use for the sake of being cool. Users can easily join the conversation as well as monitor what's being said. They can also instantly share insights with each other. We were impressed by the openness that Microsoft exhibited in deploying Feeds. All kinds of comments are there, including some that are less than complimentary about the company's products. No matter. True to its slogan of “Because it's everybody's business,” Microsoft has made no effort to censor or sugar-coat the content in Feeds. Instead, it delivers an honest and current account of what people are saying. This demonstrates confidence in its content and direction as well as openness to hearing feedback from its markets. The fact that Feeds has driven $11 million in revenue is a byproduct—and a very encouraging one—of an impressive experiment in corporate transparency.