Xerox breaks all the rules

The launch of the new campaign for Xerox Canada this past weekend was the culmination of nearly a year of breaking all the rules.The campaign marks the first attempt by a Xerox division worldwide to define to consumers the company's new...

The launch of the new campaign for Xerox Canada this past weekend was the culmination of nearly a year of breaking all the rules.

The campaign marks the first attempt by a Xerox division worldwide to define to consumers the company’s new position as The Document Company.

Xerox Canada took the message to the public with two innovative media buys.

The first segment of the advertising campaign was a six-page supplement, three pages of editorial and three pages of advertising, in the March 4 issue of The Globe and Mail called ‘Towards 2000: A Progress Report’.

Exclusively developed for Xerox by the Globe’s Report On Business, the editorial content relates to technology and managing change.

The supplement topics complement the theme of ‘Towards 2000′, a television special airing March 7 on CTV and solely sponsored by Xerox.

Both the newspaper supplement and the commercials appearing on ‘Towards 2000′ contained a lead generation component, a 1-800 phone number.

The driving force behind Xerox’ new approach is Monica Burg, director of marketing communications.

When Burg joined the company last April, she restructured the marketing department and began exploring non-traditional partnerships with agencies and other suppliers.

Her policy is ‘best of breed, best of price’ which means she picks and uses suppliers for their best talents. As a result, agencies that were previously competitors are now working together for one client.

Burg calls the new campaign ‘synergrated’ rather than ‘integrated’ because of the way all of the companies working on the external and internal communications effort pulled together.

The purpose of the campaign is to change the perception of Xerox to more than just a copier company, reinforcing it as The Document Company.

To really understand the image of Xerox, Burg felt she needed to get to the heart of the employee base.

That’s how the Xerox Summit was born, a day and a half workshop held last October. The 25 participating employees, who came from across the country, represented a wide range of ages, ethnic backgrounds, years with the company and job functions.

From the Summit came Enterprise 93, a new corporate strategy to be relayed to the public through a national advertising campaign and to the employees through a comprehensive internal communications program.

The internal part, ‘The Xerox Summit: Insights and Ideas’, consists of a corporate video produced by The Bascombe Group, plus a book from design company Taylor-Browning. Both are Toronto firms.

Young & Rubicam, Toronto created the national advertising campaign.

Marc Giacomelli, creative director with Xerox’ district agency, Robins Sharpe of Toronto, worked closely with the y&r team to ensure that what was delivered to retailers and district offices had the same look and feel as the national advertising.

‘Towards 2000′ was kicked off with a 90-second live-action commercial telling the story of the invention of xerography by Chester Carlson in 1938 and given a movie epic feel by the direction of Boris Damast of Toronto production company Damast/Gordon.

y&r also created five 30-second animated spots using simple, clear graphics in primary colors to illustrate how Xerox can save time and money for businesses while improving the flow of documents and information.

The animated approach is intended to overcome concerns that Xerox is big and unapproachable and will carry over to the print ads and collateral material.

Ted Rosnick Productions handled voice-over and music for the animated spots.

Burg says the simple format of the animated spots can be applied internationally.

She will be offering the campaign to Xerox’s European operation and there’s a strong possibility it will be seen internationally.

Voice-overs were intentionally used in both live-action and animated commercials to make it easy to adapt worldwide.

The creative group was made up of Burg; Barry Hoffman, a copywriter at Y&R, New York; and Leif Neilsen, vice-president, group creative director at Y&R, Toronto.

y&r has been the u.s. Xerox agency for many years and Hoffman has been working on the business for more than five years.

When Burg rebuilt the communications group at Xerox, she integrated the internal, advertising and marketing communications areas.

The group is running lean, and rather than hire new staff, Burg worked out agreements with the agencies to have their people on-site two or three days a week.

y&r account supervisor Rob McIntosh works with Burg as on-site project manager two days a week.

Robins Sharpe provides a graphic design/desktop design person three days a week to allow Xerox in-house presentation support capabilities.

A Xerox off-site business unit is located at Robins Sharpe and is managed and run by the agency. It has a bilingual 1-800 number which services the communication needs of Xerox retailers and district offices.

Both Robins Sharpe and y&r are hooked up by computer to Xerox, making them an extension of the Xerox offices and increasing efficiency.

Burg says the benefit of these partnerships is that when projects are over, needs can be assessed and adjusted to the required level of service.

Gord McLean, y&r group account director, says the system of having all of the suppliers working together was looked at with some trepidation when it first started.

‘It took us probably a good four or five months until we felt comfortable that everything was exactly as it appeared. There were no hidden agendas.’

McLean says the Xerox agency system is competitive but also collaborative.

‘I think in the end, ultimately Xerox gets a better quality of work.’