Is Cisco's TV Promotion Unethical?

By John Honovich, Published Apr 27, 2010, 08:00pm EDT

In April 2010, an American TV show included a paid promotion that featured a demonstration of Cisco's video surveillance manager [link no longer available] performing facial recognition. The show prominently displayed the Cisco brand and the name of Cisco's actual video surveillance product. However, it centered on a feature that Cisco does not have - integrated facial recognition. Furthermore, it featured an application that is likely impossible (without significant errors) - matching a face in real time from a 15-20 foot wide FoV with a 30 - 45 degree angle.

Here's an image of the key shot:

One might argue that this is 'Hollywood's' fault because they neither know nor care about this point. However, this differs from typical Hollywood irresponsibility. Usually, it's a generic mistake made by the TV show/movie. Here, Cisco paid the TV show to do this. A video surveillance vendor knowingly misrepresented itself with its product in full view.

Cisco does not need name recognition - whether it's surveillance or any other segment. By promoting a use case they cannot deliver, they are simply setting up disappointment or distrust as users recognize this.

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