Xerox Names IBM Marketing Exec as CMO

John Kennedy Helped Transform IBM From Hardware to Services

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John Kennedy
John Kennedy

Xerox Corp. has named John Kennedy, former VP-global business services at IBM Corp., VP-CMO, effective July 28.

Mr. Kennedy succeeds Christa Carone, who left Xerox in October to become exec VP-corporate affairs, communications and events at Fidelity Investments. Karen Arena, VP-global communications, and Duane Schulz, VP-brand and marketing operations, have been co-leading the marketing function at Xerox since Ms. Carone's departure.

Mr. Kennedy held a variety of marketing posts at IBM since joining the computer-maker in 1996, spanning hardware, software and services. Before being named to his most recent post, he was VP-corporate marketing at IBM. He also worked at Procter & Gamble, and he started his marketing career at NationsBank (now Bank of America). In the following interview with Advertising Age, Mr. Kennedy discusses his marketing priorities for Xerox.

Advertising Age: Why does this move make sense for you?

Mr. Kennedy: I'm at the point where I'd done a wide range of marketing posts at IBM and had been able to have some global experience working on corporate initiatives, brand-building roles and working for business units on the hardware side and services side. I had also been very involved in IBM's work in describing where marketing was going, the future of marketing, and talking directly to CMOs to help CMOs understand the ways in which marketing and technology are intersecting. So this is a great opportunity to step in and help an iconic company like Xerox on their own journey, applying marketing in a way to support their own marketing transformation, and help Xerox continue to build a great marketing and communications team. Xerox has a long history of doing industry-leading marketing and communications work, and I want to continue the track record set by Christa.

Advertising Age: What's your marketing vision for Xerox?

Mr. Kennedy: It will take some time -- I need to get in and learn the business and get more familiar with Xerox's existing strategy. There are certain notions I have based on what I've been doing to date, particularly with how technology and digitization are changing the ways in which buyers consume information and the manner in which they want to be interacted with. There are some paradigms I have that I will probably bring, but it's too early to speak specifically to Xerox's marketing strategy.

Advertising Age: At IBM, you were involved in helping lead a shift from hardware into software and services. How will this experience help you at Xerox?

Mr. Kennedy: I think there are some parallels. Xerox is a story of business transformation. Xerox is a company today that looks very different than it was 75 years ago. It is a very, very different company. The vast majority of its revenue comes from business services, and it is in the process of transforming the way it's perceived in the market in terms of its brand and attributes. The experience I had at IBM, in helping a large complicated company transform, is part of what makes this job so interesting. When you help a company transform, you are helping to play a part in its history.

Advertising Age: Do you plan to review Xerox's ad agency partners?

Mr. Kennedy: I think in the early days, I'll look to meet everyone. Obviously, our agency network is a critical set of relationships that are vital to our success in continuing to transform the brand and drive business outcomes and the bottom line [global AOR partners include Y&R, MEC, MEC Access, Text 100 and H&K]. This will be a key part of my onboarding. Going back to the strategy I learned while at P&G -- how strategic agencies can be and looking to agencies to play an influencing role -- this is a value I hold very dearly and is the way I've always operated.

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