April 9, 2007
Xerox Touts Viral Marketing Drive with New Campaign, Leaving Some to Question What Viral Marketing Is

Viral marketing often comes with a nudge. Of course, that sometimes leaves one to question whether it's really viral marketing or not, but I digress. Representatives from Xerox sent word of an interesting ad campaign the company has been working on as of late.

There are several interesting advertising campaigns being launched these days, ones that don't just hawk a product but rather try to entertain an audience into wanting to spread the word. Now, they just have to hawk the ad campaign.

Xerox has gotten some attention for its video Extreme Offices, which focuses on an office in which something has been put in the water cooler to make the employees work at optimal speed, which leads to chaos rather than efficiency. The tag line is that there are better ways to achieve greater productivity, such as using Xerox multifunction devices which are reported to be "three times more productive than competing products on the market," according to a Xerox press release.

Follow that up with Frugal Color, a campaign which promises to "put the fun back into fundamental fiscal responsibility." Again, the key message is that Xerox's options are unbelievably cost-effective.

The video and the company's plan to launch a multimillion dollar campaign in conjunction with the viral approach, will ultimately include advertisements "across print, radio and online" which will "target an audience of IT professionals and other senior business decision makers." I'm interested in this approach to viral marketing particularly focusing on white-collar workers. While viral marketing is often discussed in the realm of youth culture, business culture is also closely tied to electronic interaction, so the model doesn't seem that far off in that regard.

The campaign will be pan-European and created by RKCR/Y&R ad agency.

Last month, I wrote about two interesting viral marketing campaigns as well, the Ink Is It campaign from Kodak and Animax and the longstanding I Hate Steven Singer reverse psychology anti-branding campaign. The Singer campaign focuses on a husband who blames the jewelry company for his wife's having a baby nine months after he buys her a Steven Singer ring.

Meanwhile the Ink Is It campaign from Kodak has drawn some parallels with the Xerox campaign, primarily because both focus on printing products and make fun of various aspects of "office" culture, perhaps not surprising in light of the popularity of both British and American versions of The Office.

Angela Natividad with Adrants writes of the campaign that it is a strong effort to make Xerox relevant again.

Of course, not everyone finds them humorous, and some people are just angered by a corporate attempt to create a viral campaign. See Jean Nasr, for instance, who writes of both the Xerox and Kodak campaigns that they "kill the essence of viral marketing" with "a shallow sense of innovation and creativity."

Taking a more instructive approach, Gino Cosme finds Xerox's video funny but that it needs something extra to truly be viral. Gino suggests ways to allow the video to be shared within social networks and to allow commenting on the video site itself rather than e-mailing in to the company, to help create a community around the product, concluding that "I commend Xerox for creating an integrated B2B campaign using a clever mix of media. I also encourage them to optimise the online campaign so that it does become viral."

I agree both that the video is funny but that any hyperbole about it being somehow revolutionary in its potential ability to be shared may be overstated. Nevertheless, it's great to see more major companies thinking creatively about how to market their product in a pull versus a push way, encouraging people to want to hear their pitch by making it as creative as possible.



I don't think video is revolutionary by any means. The internet is at a point where bandwidth is affordable and people's computers are powerful enough to watch them.

Viral videos can be done many ways and doesn't have anything to do with budget. How you position your product and brand messaging can also create unexpected reactions to your video as well.