Overall winner: Cisco’s One Million Acts of Green

Last October, Cisco Systems Canada joined forces with the CBC to create a social network of Canadians, linked together in their commitment to change their habits for the greater environmental good. Just over six months later, One Million Acts of Green (OMAoG) has succeeded beyond its name. Now it's poised to go global

Last October, Cisco Systems Canada joined forces with the CBC to create a social network of Canadians, linked together in their commitment to change their habits for the greater environmental good. Just over six months later, One Million Acts of Green (OMAoG) has succeeded beyond its name. Now it’s poised to go global


As a global company operating in more than 85 countries, Cisco recognized the need to take a leadership role in reducing its overall environmental footprint. Cisco technologies allow people to communicate in new ways and use the network to come together and transform businesses, communities, governments, schools, and lives. Inspired by the internet, the company knew that people are stronger together than they could ever be apart, and that combining individual acts can increase the positive impact on our planet. Change that starts with one person doing one action is what OMAoG is all about.


When talking about technical industries like IT networks, applying an extra human touch helps. Cisco wanted to engage consumers and employees and demonstrate how people can use the web to connect and collectively work towards a common goal – one act at a time. The ‘human network effect’ is Cisco’s umbrella marketing vision, demonstrating that the internet is more than a network of computers; it’s a network of people. OMAoG is an evolution of Cisco’s global ‘Human Network’ campaign, bringing to life the power and potential of human connection.

The platform chosen was a social networking site for environmental sustainability, featuring user profiles, friends, groups, blogs, challenges, photographs and video sharing to encourage visitors to spread the word virally, demonstrating the impact of the human network in effecting positive change and reinforcing the Cisco brand.


Cisco Canada partnered with the CBC to launch Onemillionactsofgreen.com and Unmilliondegestesverts.com. Non-profit organizations including the Clean Air Foundation, David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Evergreen, Earth Day Canada, Green Street, Equiterre and the Climate Project Canada participated as environmental partners.

Cisco provided the technology platform for the site, developed and hosted by the CBC, which invited Canadians to log on and post their ‘Acts of Green’ – from switching to CFL lightbulbs to riding a bike to work to installing a wind turbine or investing in renewable energy. Users could see the impact via a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions calculator developed by environmental online community GreenNexxus – thereby immediately seeing the impact of their actions.

With the foundation in place, Cisco and the CBC embarked on a massive outreach campaign to mobilize Canadians to commit one million green acts. Pre-launch, the CBC spread the word as broadly as possible with a teaser ad on one of Canada’s most beloved programs, Hockey Night in Canada. The national campaign launched on CBC’s The Hour on Oct. 21, and host George Stromboulopoulos kept public interest high by asking his celebrity guests to name their acts of green.

Using its WebEx online collaboration tool, Cisco hosted a webinar in January and invited members of the green community to hear talks by environmental experts including GreenNexxus CEO Peter Corbyn. Another webinar is planned for June.

OMAoG was also integrated into Cisco’s corporate sports marketing program. Aligning OMAoG with NHL All-Stars generated an on-air program mention to an audience of 1.5 million. NHL players donated their time to a broadcast promotion, while a Steve Nash promo on the NBA website resulted in over 1,000 clicks.

Schools, businesses and individuals used the ‘challenge utility’ webform to get friends, families and colleagues involved by email. Schools embraced the program, with universities including Trent, Dalhousie and Acadia the most active. Businesses including BMO Financial Group, Telus, MTS Allstream and Home Depot used OMAoG as a vehicle to drive awareness of their own green initiatives and engage employee participation.

Cisco engaged customers and partners through newsletters, emails and direct sales engagement, while employees engaged in launch activities across the country. Employee support was nurtured through newsletter updates and a North American challenge pitting U.S. staffers against Canadians.


With 1,309,301 acts of green by 33,000 registered users at press time, OMAoG has captured the attention of Canadians, demonstrating how collaboration can inspire action. Through OMAoG, individuals have made a measurable impact on the environment with over 80 million kgs of GHG emissions saved. The site received 1.8 million page views and 186,000 unique visits between October and February, and the average time spent on the site was 17 minutes.

Celebrities and public figures got involved, including singer Alanis Morrisette, former PM Paul Martin, Robert Kennedy Jr. and David Suzuki. Environment Minister Jim Prentice endorsed the program on air and referenced OMAoG on the Environment Canada website.

The initial launch generated significant buzz, with over 150,000 acts logged in week one. Cisco measured three million brand engagements and 7,300 clicks to Cisco.com/ca.

The media took notice, with 161 newspaper and magazine articles (78% with Cisco mentioned). CBC skit show This Hour has 22 Minutes made the campaign the topic of a sketch, and the Trailer Park Boys posted a spoof on YouTube. At press time, the program had a Facebook group of 8,192 members, 131 blog postings and 304 Twitter followers.

Inspired by the grassroots international interest in the site, OMAoG is now going global. Messaging on the site encourages members to invite their friends from other countries to sign on with their acts, and a U.S. viral site is also in the works.

Judges’ comments

‘Cisco stands out on a whole other level. They were the catalyst for the cause, but they did so without the consumer having to buy a single thing. They inspired, not solicited the action. As a result, many well beyond their core target now understand the meaning of a human network by acting individually. Pretty powerful brand and cause ROI – for Cisco and Planet Earth.’

-Susan McGibbon, partner, Chemistry

‘Who didn’t know about One Million Acts of Green? I loved the way this campaign unfolded, how well it leveraged social media, how it appeared on the hippest program with the coolest host on CBC, how the rollout and promotions seemed perfect, how the tone and manner of the marketing communications was appropriate for the audience, how it made people see that their single action contributed to something bigger, with a real environmental impact.’

-Lynn Patterson, director of corporate responsibility, RBC

‘This program seems to be the most broadly appealing, with widespread involvement and the potential for the greatest actual CSR impact. Individual consumers can really run with it on their own, and it may inspire all kinds of spin-offs. Nice media packaging and visual appeal on the ads, brand, etc.’

-Chelsea Willness, asst. professor, Brock University

‘Cisco’s One Million Acts of Green was by far the campaign that I had heard about the most in 2008. Media coverage was omnipresent and the highly interactive website was smart, creative and engaging. Cisco’s marketing program was fully integrated with a wide range of catchy ads, a great website, celebrity endorsements, viral initiatives and more.’

-Cristelle Basmaji, director of communications, Boutique Jacob

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