Microsoft Teams and Zoom have a new sexy competitor (who's trying too hard)

It often seems as if everyone is either on Teams or Zoom. Or both. But there's an old competitor desperately trying to look new. Why, it's even on TV.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

Focus is in? This ad doesn't have it.

Screenshot by ZDNet

I was vacantly watching an NBA game on TNT -- one in which the Brooklyn Nets' star Kyrie Irving didn't play, reportedly because "I just didn't want to play."

Suddenly, I was jolted by jaunty music that heralded a brand trying to look exciting.

"Who could this be?" I wondered. It couldn't be a tech brand, could it?

The message was all about how everyone was "in." As opposed to out? Not in? On? Under? Over? Absent?

Apparently, everyone can be in with everything they need. Which is wonderful, if a little ethereal.

I pressed force-focus on my inner workings and realized this was an ad for Cisco's Webex.

Please forgive me, but in a world that seems to have been swallowed whole by Zoom and Microsoft Teams, I'd barely remembered Webex existed. I think of it as having been around a long time, but not having perfect people-friendly attributes. Even if it's said to be one of the few videoconferencing methods of which Apple approves.

This was a slightly shortened version of an ad Webex has been running for the past couple of weeks.

"Teamwork is in," the ad offered. Does this mean egotism is out? Won't everyone miss it, especially in America?

I rewound the ad on my DVR, then slid to the longer version on YouTube.

Then I asked myself a hearty philosophical question: "What the hell was that?" This was followed by the slightly less philosophical: "Why should I use Webex?"

You see, I looked at all these bright colors and sudden jauntiness and tried to focus on all the words wafting in and out of shot. Yet all I could conclude is that Webex wants you to believe it's just as exciting as Zoom. (Which, I agree, is not very exciting, but it's at least marginally human.)

"Gestures are in," says the ad. Haven't they always been in? Some gestures can be more in at certain times than others, but gestures have always enjoyed a lot of in-ner power.

The ad exclaims that "focus is in," too. But if there's one thing this ad doesn't have it's focus.

It feels like an all-things-for-all-people affair. With few people, I suspect, getting anything at all out of it. Other than, perhaps, that Webex has had a makeover.

And now we turn to the did-you-know part of the program. Did you know that Webex once did a Super Bowl ad with RuPaul? It was 21 years ago. Now that was something.

But back to its latest efforts at excitement.

"It's engaging, it's intelligent, it's inclusive," says the YouTube blurb. The ad really isn't.

I can only conclude there's no new reason to use Webex, other than you're sick of Teams and Zoom.

Which isn't a bad reason at all, I suppose.

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