Originally published: 3/14/2011

Even though advertisers seem to spend more and more time thinking about platforms, synergy, and strategy, creative is still king. Ad campaigns become part of our culture because great creative minds understand how to appeal to culture. We caught up with Christa Carone, CMO of Xerox. Carone answered a few questions about how she's been able to turn cultural insight into innovative marketing.

ARF: How important is the connection to culture for the development of great ideas?

Christa Carone: Connecting to culture in developing great ideas results in more relevant creative and, ultimately, more impactful campaigns. To me, relevancy is always the key because it helps ensure marketing really is aligned with true insights about targeted customers.

ARF: What are the best ways to extract valuable information from culture to create meaningful ideas?

CC: At Xerox we employ sociologists and anthropologists who study human behavior in workplaces. Their research helps inform our innovation and the ways we bring new products and services to market. We have a first-hand understanding of what makes an office run smoothly as well as the obstacles to simplifying how work gets done. As a result, we prioritize our innovation and our marketing investments on developing ways for our B2B clients to focus on what matters most: their core business, their real business. We also use our own workplace as a natural proving ground to test the effectiveness and relevancy of our offerings.

ARF: What are examples of noteworthy ideas that were able to successfully connect culture and the creative?

CC: One of my long-time favorite examples is an Office Makeover campaign Xerox conducted a couple of years ago. It was targeted to small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) and it touched on two key cultural realities:

- From a professional perspective, SMBs tend not to spend money on creating appealing workplaces.

- In pop culture at the time, the "makeover" trend was just on the rise with the burst of reality TV shows.

Our Office Makeover campaign was far from rocket science. It didn't need to be. We simply created a makeover contest to find really awful business settings. We identified those that were screaming for help, brought in well-known experts from design makeover shows, and generated a significant amount of buzz for bringing style and technology to often neglected office spaces.

The idea was great in its simplicity and relevancy, and the results more strongly connected the Xerox brand with the SMB marketplace.

Want to hear more? Christa Carone will be joining Michele Buck, Grant McCracken, and Kim Feil to discuss how creative ideas can grow business at the ARF's Re:think Convention on March 21. Registration is now open!