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In the fall of 1998, Cisco Systems approached Ken Kragen to help it capture world attention at the Telecom Conference in Geneva in October 1999. Cisco needed a dramatic and completely unique marketing event to increase global brand awareness and clearly differentiate it from its top competitors. Cisco’s internal marketing team had developed a number of concepts, but none was compelling enough to capture the imagination of the industry or worldwide public.

Kragen immediately developed the idea of staging an unprecedented global charity event, merging Cisco’s Internet technology with theUnited Nations’ war on poverty. In one marketing strategy, Cisco would gain visibility, brand awareness and market share. This was an unprecedented concept at Cisco.

Kragen personally recruited the team that created and staged the event. Because of his vast contacts in the entertainment industry, he was able to assemble professionals with the talent, expertise and credibility needed to successfully stage an event of this magnitude. They included:

 Quincy Jones at the launch of "NetAid"

Quincy Jones at the launch of "NetAid"

  • Television producers Don Mischer and David Goldberg, who had orchestrated many of the most significant and challenging events of our time, including the Atlanta Olympics, The 50 th Anniversary of Israel and the celebration for the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese people.
  • Jeff Pollack, one of the most powerful radio consultants in the world.
  • Harvey Goldsmith, English promoter of "Live Aid."
  • Quincy Jones, to spearhead the project and bring his enormous credibility to our efforts.

Together with Cisco’s dedicated and talented professionals, the team spent a full year organizing and staging a truly significant and defining event for the Millennium. Cisco willingly increased its initial commitment of $3 million dollars for a "new" marketing event to $27 million dollars for "NetAid."

The “NetAid” website was launched in September of 1999 by three of the most powerful and influential leaders in the world: President Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela. A month later, major concerts were staged at Giant Stadium in New Jersey, Wembley Stadium in London and the Palais de Nations in Geneva. These events were broadcast on television and radio in 150 countries around the world.

The effect on Cisco proved to be significant and long-term. The return on investment realized from this single event far exceeded the expectations executive management thought possible by a marketing strategy. Perhaps equally as important is the long-term commitment Cisco and its executives made to this very compelling world issue.

The tremendous impact “NetAid” achieved for Cisco Systems at the World Telecom Conference set a new standard of excellence and creativity for their marketing strategies.

Cisco has retained Kragen to continue to consult on other marketing projects, including obtaining the entertainment for their largest event this year. He accomplished this for less then half the budget allocated, despite the fact that a portion of his compensation was based on the total dollars spent.
His communication skills, his general sense of teamwork, his commitment and his people skills helped make our event a success.
— John Chambers, President & CEO of Cisco Systems, Inc.

View some of Ken's other consulting projects: