Cisco Ad Mocks Air Travel During Plane Crash Coverage

The ad, which is part of Cisco's "Travel Less, Save More" campaign that promotes its TelePresence collaborative communication tools, features various executive-attired people rattling off the standard flight attendant emergency instructions for fictional flight 1120. The executives recite the instructions verbatim, often rolling their eyes or making exaggerated gestures to illustrate their frustration and boredom with corporate air travel. One executive finishes his portion by saying "blah, blah, blah," while another calls a water-evacuation "unlikely" and waves his arms.

Throughout the ad, the folks on camera fiddle with oxygen masks, seat belts and inflatable vests and remind viewers that their seat cushions can be used as flotation devices -- if necessary. The ad entices executives to stop wasting "endless hours" in airports and aboard planes and have meetings via TelePresence to save time and boost productivity.

The ad can be seen here.

The spot ran during a commercial break of CNN's coverage of the Jan. 15 emergency water landing and evacuation of Flight 1549. All passengers aboard the flight were safely evacuated and no life-threatening injuries were reported.

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While the ad on its own is relatively innocuous, airing a commercial making light of airplane emergencies during an actual emergency came off as a faux pas for the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant.

Cisco also recognized the unfortunate timing of the ad, but noted that having the spot removed took time and it could not be pulled from rotation before it aired on CNN.

"As soon as Cisco became aware of the news of the US Airways Flight 1549 water landing, we asked our advertising agency to pull the Cisco advertisement that references air travel," Cisco spokesman David McCulloch told the L.A. Times in an e-mail. "Because the campaign was in national distribution it took some time to have all the spots removed, and unfortunately a few spots aired as late as yesterday evening."