I watched the latest episode of 24 on my Tivo. Like many other people, I've become numb to the myriad of products that are not-so-subtely featured on television shows or in movies in pay-to-play arrangements. I don't bat an eye when the camera focuses in on the character's Apple laptop that never has any messy things like power cords attached to it. Seeing pristine Computer Associates software boxes neatly lined up on top of an office bookshelf barely makes me pause. I don't even register people all driving cars made by the same manufacturer. How about the zooms in on the Cisco IP phones when a call is placed - phone, what phone?

However, I almost spat my drink out when the character Chloe on 24 blurted out something like "it's impossible that our network is under attack - it's self defending!" as the camera zoomed onto a monitoring system with the Cisco logo emblazoned across it. Now, as a marketing guy, I need to give Cisco props for using different ways of getting their message out. There were a few emails from other people here that also chuckled at the placement. We've had BIG-IP show up on film one time. Warner Bros asked us if they could use a bunch of BIG-IPs in their Operation Swordfish movie because they really liked how they looked in their own data center. In proper movie fashion, the devices we sent for the movie were essentially props with only the logo sphere functional and lit up.

Cisco's product placement broke through the noise and got me during this show. However, I probably walked away with thoughts other than what Cisco wanted to plant in my head: 1) The Self Defending Network must not work so well since they can't get to their network resources and 2) I'm glad the drink didn't come out my nose.