Marketing Week (MW): What challenges does Xerox face in the UK?
Darrell Minards (DM): While Xerox is on this journey of transformation, we need to shift perceptions of the Xerox brand from what it was known as to what we’re providing now. In the UK and Europe, it’s the same challenge as in the US, but we’ve got a slightly longer journey. This is particularly since the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services, which is well known in the US because of its applications like [the toll road system] E-ZPass and Medicaid but less well known in Europe.
The other challenge is making our actions relevant locally. Business challenges are pretty much common wherever you go but it’s making them relevant through the stories you tell. There are the global brands like Ducati and Michelin that we’re using within the global campaign, but we also need to make the ‘Real Business’ message relevant at a very local level. So in the UK, it might be talking about medical records with Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, for example, or helping Lloyds Banking Group or Morrisons with their marketing applications.
MW: How closely does your team work alongside Christa Carone and your US counterparts?
DM: We’re very closely integrated. My mantra is that we really need to contribute to innovation with that team so we need to have regular one-to-ones with the key players in Christa’s team to develop and share ideas. Apart from insight and innovation, it’s essential that we also integrate our activities. We develop all the elements of communications together and the programmes that we run – no one part stands alone – so we need to do that at a global level, not just here in the UK.
I have a monthly one-to-one with Christa. I’m part of her Executive Marketing Council and have one-to-ones with members of her team. They in turn will be involved on monthly calls with their respective disciplines, whether that’s digital, PR, experiential or advertising.
And when we’ve made a decision, we need to implement it. It’s very easy to say “that’s a global decision” and go off and do our own thing, but that really doesn’t work. We need good, healthy debate but once we’ve had all those discussions, let’s just get on and implement them. If you do that, you can move fast because you’re not spending time trying to create something new in each market.
MW: Is moving quickly difficult for such a large company?
DM: I can see why it would be easy to think that being large means that you can’t move fast but actually I think size gives us that ability. We’ve got 136,000 people, which means we’ve got tremendous reach globally, so we can launch products, services and solutions for our biggest global customers in a way that we couldn’t if we weren’t as large. In attitude, we’re influenced a lot by our CEO – impatience is a big thing with Ursula Burns.
Slick processes are also key. We’re not unusual in that we’re an integrated European team but we’re not a traditional corporate European head office with country specific offices that we’re trying to influence. We’re a truly integrated operation, which allows us to react quickly.
MW: What influence do you think Christa Carone has had on Xerox since her appointment?
DM: The actions that Christa has brought about have had a profound effect on us as a business. It maybe hasn’t necessarily affected what we’ve ended up doing but it has given us an absolute shape and clarity to what it is that Xerox is about. We’ve been moving towards services, solutions and business process outsourcing for a while but we probably didn’t have full clarity of thought about what our mission in the world was before Christa helped refine it.
The other thing she has really brought about is cultivating an environment where you can expect the unexpected from Xerox. So you might see us as a conservative, fairly traditional, large business but actually, you might start to see the brand behaving in ways you might not expect, such as with relationships with Cirque Du Soleil or with an advertising campaign that is a little bit tongue-in-cheek.
MW: What do you see as business threats for Xerox in 2012?
DM: I think that the threats that will come to everyone’s mind are the ones around the economy and the environmental challenges and those things are common to everyone. For me, 2012 is about making sure that we keep on transforming this company and the perceptions of our customers in what is a very crowded market.
This year, for the first time, we have a truly integrated plan in Europe where we’ve aligned and understood all the business priorities for the three main business divisions. Picking on something like communication and marketing services – yes, we will have elements of above- and below-the-line activity, but we’ll also combine PR and experiential with that as well. I think it’s the first time that it’s been quite so holistic. I think it’s important that with all the marketing activity that we do, everything crosses over as without integration you can potentially end up with confusion and conflict – we don’t want that.