I've written about the Cisco Energy Tax campaign that Nortel showcased at Interop. It's an awesome example of the [[Pepsi Challenge]], the iconic campaign by Pepsi conducted in the early 1980s. Pepsi made commercials of consumers at the mall, at the local speedway, at main street, in the grocery store, at the soccer pitch, anywhere in a blind taste of Pepsi and Coke. Consumers almost invariably (at least on TV) chose the better taste of Pepsi. 

This campaign irked Coke executives, who had data that showed that regardless of what taste people actually preferred, they still bought Coke and lots of it. Nevertheless, the leadership of Coke felt compelled to do something and change the formula is what they did. The nation revolted and eventually the company relented with Coke Classic versus [[New Coke]] and then eventually phased out New Coke.

This is not like Sara Silver says is 'David throwing the stone at Goliath' (subscription required), it is exactly like the Pepsi Challenge where one competitor makes hay out of a competitor's weakness. Like Coke's initial PR response which attacked the methodology of the testing, Cisco's defense is to hide behind the Miercom green sticker, which is an attempt to define a proprietary green standard. So what if Cisco switches (some models) meet Miercom's specifications which are both quantitative and qualitative? Besides, what does qualitative mean here? They were painted green?

I would expect Cisco to lose more than one $2 million deal because of the Cisco Energy Tax because this issue is important to users. The boxes do about the same thing (move packets from here to there, provide DC power for IP phones), and if one can use 50% less power than the other, then I would expect users will let their dollars do the talking. 

Shame on McCann for suggesting the ad for Cisco Energy Tax in the San Jose Mercury. This will certainly anger Cisco employees, but I would have thought they'd be better off in the long run, doing the ad for CFOs – CNBC, Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal would be right for this crowd. Go figure. I guess, they hope to draw energy from Cisco to co-fuel the fire. 

Changing the criteria for customer decisions is an important market adjustment process and one that I have defined and supported in several campaigns at my previous employers and with my clients. It's a great way to earn notoriety, credibility and otherwise tilt the playing field away from the 70+% market leader.

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