Keep Cisco Safe mandatory training

Changing the way Cisco workers engage with critical mandatory cybersecurity training using a real-life event

Additional credits

Video production:

Animal Farm and GP Strategies

Cisco, as the world’s leading networking company, has a responsibility to be a leader in cybersecurity, which naturally means they conduct rigorous cybersecurity training with all employees and contractors. However, as a world leader, and based on previous projects we’ve done with them, Cisco realized that cybersecurity training is most effective when tired tropes are challenged and paradigms rethought. Building on our successful partnership and the cybersecurity monster campaign (Keep Cisco Safe) we developed for the Cisco Security and Trust Organization, we brought to life an attention-grabbing concept. Partnering with trusted production company, Animal Farm, we conceptualized, directed, shot, edited, and activated a striking video for Cisco’s internal mandatory cybersecurity training.

The result has been overwhelming critical acclaim for the production, which was based on real events. And more importantly, genuine engagement leading to rethinking of seemingly benign behavior that can put a whole company at risk.

Design System

Inspired by real events

Workplace trainings have a reputation for being drudging, check-the-box affairs that convey information that is important but dry. The motifs are always familiar, the production and acting quality often low, and the tactics to prod people to watch them tedious. Needless to say, engagement is lackluster.

Based on our established creative trust and ongoing professional relationship, Cisco was willing to use a bold tactic to amplify its cybersecurity training: showcase a real-life event from 2022 when a bad actor tried to breach Cisco’s cyber defenses. What could have been seen as a vulnerable moment for Cisco and its cybersecurity team was turned around to strengthen the global team and its approach to keeping Cisco safe.

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Not your usual mandatory training video

Even with a true story example at hand, presentation is key. Dry facts from a real event would still leave trainees underwhelmed. So, we interviewed key members of the Cisco Security and Trust Organization who responded to the actual event and dramatized their responses with a seventeen-minute true-crime-documentary style video featuring unnerving effects, drones, AI voice overlays, and thoughtful content delivery that turned a mundane training into an edge-of-your-seat activity. We worked with creative partners GP Strategies to complete the experience with a tailored and strategically positioned quiz after watching the video, the development of which we managed.

Hype, reviews, results

We and Cisco were thrilled with the results. But we also weren’t done. With something so engaging, we knew we had an opportunity to really grab people’s attention to make a difference in their behavior. So, we created a one-minute movie-style trailer which was distributed in advance to build anticipation. This quick and foreboding teaser amplified the tension and excitement of the longer video. By the time the training launched, workers weren’t dreading it. They were clamoring for it.

By strategizing deeply and, with Cisco’s trust, transforming the paradigm creatively, we partnered with Cisco to create a training video that didn’t just check a compliance box. It generated excitement. This critical pivot allowed authentic learning and internalization, leading to changed and more disciplined behavior with respect to cybersecurity. The real-life event made it feel close to home and urgent. The creative strategy and delivery made it effective.

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A safer Cisco

We were delighted by responses such as “It was getting intense, so I paused the video so I could get a bowl of popcorn, then resumed watching.” But even more so by feedback like “Folks are going to learn—don’t care how technical you are—and it will change the way people think about their work passwords and MFA.” Because ultimately that’s the point. Not mere drama-for-drama’s-sake, the mandatary training we produced for Cisco captured attention in such a way that people were motivated to change behavior. Rather than a matter of “if,” we shifted to “when-it-did.” We helped Cisco leverage the power of story to change attitudes and behavior. The result: a safer Cisco, more resilient to one of the greatest daily threats in the world today.

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