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Xerox Takes Original Turn

Last month, Xerox Corp. jumped back into TV advertising with a huge new campaign. The object is to get business executives to stop thinking of Xerox as a copier company and instead hire it for a range of business services. In an interview with B&C Business Editor Jon Lafayette, Xerox CMO Christa Carone talks about building a new image for a well-known brand.

What were the marketing objectives of the new campaign?
The objective of the campaign is really to start to shift some of the legacy perceptions of the Xerox brand and to encourage people to think a bit more broadly about Xerox, not just as a printer company, but also a company that provides business services.

That strong brand image as a printer company is the result of a history of strong television commercials.
It’s been 50 years since we launched the world’s first copier, and certainly Xerox has been known for having pretty effective TV advertising in the past. The copier itself was such a breakthrough 50 years ago, and the marketing absolutely helped to make it the successful product that it has been. We haven’t done as much TV over the last couple of years, but we are certainly back in the market now with this new brand campaign.

What insights guided the way you’re taking your message to the market?
We do a lot of brand research, so we have a good sense of brand perception amongst our targeted customers. But more importantly Xerox completed a huge acquisition earlier this year, a $6 billion acquisition of a services company named Affi liated Computer Services, one of the biggest companies that no one had heard of. They are behind the scenes handling back-offi ce business services for a number of Fortune 1000 companies, so they do things like claims  reimbursement. They do a lot of the Medicaid claims for state and local government, student loan processing, they run customer call centers. So we knew that we needed to get back into the marketplace to articulate the fact that our company has transformed itself significantly. Strategically, we’ve been taking all the right steps to change the company. Now we need to align the marketing with what we’ve already done on the business side.

How did you go about deciding the media mix for the new campaign?
We work with Mediaedge as our global media buying company, and they had a clear idea of our target audience for this and worked with a number of the different media companies to look at what they were offering. We then aligned it with our target and our objectives for the campaign. So on the media mix, we knew we wanted it to be integrated, that it wasn’t going to be solely dependent on certain traditional media, that we were looking for integration so that we could better attract and appeal to the audience we’re seeking here.

You’ll probably have television in the mix going forward—is it a bigger or smaller share?
Yes, television is a very meaningful share of the media mix and the biggest that we’ve had in quite some time.

Is it mostly broadcast or cable?
I’d say it leans more towards cable, but there is definitely some broadcast, like Sunday morning news shows and some affiliation with sporting events like what you see with Notre Dame.

Can you find business decision-makers and C-suite executives via television?
Is that a strength or weakness for television? That’s actually a strength for television, especially in today’s economy where business people are constantly seeking more information about what’s happening with the economy, with regulatory reform. We’ve all seen that the likes of CNBC have done very well during tumultuous times because people are hungry for information. Business people in particular are hungry for business information, so certain television plays well in that regard for us with this particular target audience.

Any surprising choices where we'll see Xerox pop up, such as at Notre Dame games?
That probably wasn't too surprising. I don't think there will be any big surprises here if you're taking a look at B-to-B [business-to-business] companies. What's different for us with this particular campaign is again how integrated it is across a variety of media, digital, TV, print, we've got a lot of paid search in there, we're doing a lot with out of home and airport buys and it's complimented by a pretty rich Web experience. I don't think you would be shocked by any of the media buys that we've done.

The campaign is integrated, but do specific media have specific responsibilities for reach different audiences or carrying different parts of the message?
With some of the digital we're going to get stronger metrics there on engagement. And with TV you've got 30 seconds to introduce a message. We hope it will drive some consideration to the Website but the whole time we have looked at developing this campaign holistically. We never said we're going to let TV ride the wave doing this, we're going to let print ride the wave doing this. It was always with the combination of digital, print, TV, out of home and the many interactions that our audience will see: Xerox what are we trying to achieve? We knew it could only work if we were in multiple media channels.

How do you measure the success of the campaign and which parts are working?
We've created a dashboard for the campaign and it includes some basic testing around, is the creative working, with both quantitative testing and focus group testing around that. We did some focus group testing before we launched the campaign just to test the creative. We'll continue doing some 360-degree testing on the creative and whether or not it's having an impact and whether we're getting the recall rates we'd like to achieve, and the click through rates as it relates to the digital. So that is "is the creative working and is the media mix working," but we'll also be doing broader brand perception testing that basically looks at, are we meeting our objective here of trying to shift some of the perceptions of the brand. And that's actually the most meaningful of the testing because it starts to justify why we've chosen to invest in this marketing.

When do you think you'll start to see movement on that needle?
Well it's early days. This kind of stuff takes a long time. If it's an initial 15-week run, it will continue in 2011. We'll do testing probably every three to four months or so and hope that we do start to see the needle move. But know that you have to be in the marketplace for quite a while before you really start to see that shift, especially with such a well-entrenched brand like Xerox.

As the campaign plays out, what do you want the takeaway to be among business decision-makers?
I understand they'll still think of us in the printing realm and we're not backing away from that business, it's still a core part of what we do. But I'd also hope that their mind is open to considering Xerox on the business services side as well. That they'll say, yeah, I think I remember that you guys are also doing some finance and accounting services for Marriott, so tell me more about what's happening there. So it's a continued acknowledgement that we're a leader in printing in terms of printing technology, but also the fact that we have as rich of a portfolio to offer in business services.

Are you still running advertising for the printing business?
We are.

With the same weight?
Same weight. It's mostly digital. Mostly online units related to product sales.

So on TV it's all about business services?
We're all about the brand campaign that just launched.

Do you spend much time talking directly with media vendors?
I spend some time talking to media vendors.

What can media vendors do that would be valuable to you?
What I share with the media vendors is probably the same thing that they hear from all of my colleagues, which is as much as I'm trying integration in my campaign, I need them to drive integration across their channels. So please do not have the print people come in unless they're also talking to the digital folks. If there's a broadcast arm to that, let's tie this all in together because if I'm talking to them it means their media audience is already aligned with my target audience. I need to know that they're as integrated on the mix side as I'm integrated on the campaign side. And I love it when a property will come to me and say here's what I can do for you in print, but by the way, here's what I can also do for you with a sponsorship on a major conference that we're putting on, here's some of the opportunities on special features that we're doing online, here's some merchandising opportunities where we can bring an editor out to XYZ meeting. The same thing applies on the broadcasting side.

Are you doing anything really new and experimental in this campaign?
One of the more innovative things that we're doing is with out of home. And we are using more of these interactive billboards in airports that have motion sensing technology and touch screen technology so they're not static units, they're digital units and they're meant to grab your attention and you're walking by and to have a call to action where you're touching a screen and actually moving some of the imagery on the screen. You're engaging more with the unit than a typical static out of home unit.

Did you think that was cool or did someone really sell you on its effectiveness?
I'm hoping it's going to be both. Not only is there a cool factor-an ‘I wasn't expecting that from Xerox' reaction-but that you do get those levels of engagement and you absolutely can measure it too, which is nice because it is built on a digital platform so I can get measurements of how much engagement occurred. That's certainly not something I can get with a static unit when people are just walking by. I don't have a good sense of, did you walk by and read it and take that message with you, so it's definitely experimental. It's brand new technology. A handful of other companies are exploring it right now. And we'll see if it's something that we continue to have in the mix going forward.

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