How content plays drive Xerox's on-going brand revitalization

Geoffrey Precourt

In 1975, Xerox Corp. got a nearly 40-year head start on what has become known as "native advertising" when it paid Harrison E. Salisbury – a New York Times' Pulitzer-Prize winner and the creator of that paper's op-ed page – to write a 23-page article that was dropped into the pages of Esquire, the esteemed literary monthly magazine.

The deal was a bargain for the company: in 2014 dollars, Salisbury was paid $250,000 for his prodigious celebration of Xerox, which already had worldwide renown as the eponymic name for the paper-copier business.

For his efforts, he also received the contempt of many of his colleagues. E.B. White, the conscience of the New Yorker (and, arguably, his entire generation of journalists), wrote, "This, it would seem to me, is not only a new idea in publishing, it charts a clear course for the erosion of the free press in America. Mr. Salisbury is a former associate editor of the New York Times and should know better. Esquire is a reputable sheet and should know better. But here we go – the Xerox-Salisbury-Esquire axis in full cry!"