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INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS
This report aims to analyse the different ways by which companies may set up marketing communication actions through the Integrated Marketing Communications tools or the multiple other uses of such means. For the purpose, the author has selected several practice cases in which worldwide business have developed marketing strategies in order to achieve their goals.
According to the definition, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is the integration of the multiple instruments of the marketing mix which was traditionally based on the 4P’s: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. However, the evolved of communication methods has brought along new marketing techniques expanding it into 7P’s – People, Physical evidence and Process, as well as a large variety of communication instruments: advertising, brand activation, sponsorship, public relations, direct marketing and e-communications or digital marketing. All these marketing tools should work as a whole within companies reaching a synergic effect: the major benefit of the IMC.
Setting a marketing campaign up must be preceded by a sequence of organised and planned actions. First of all, it is vital to start by a marketing strategy in regards of three main points: the target, the objectives and the message strategy. With this in mind, the most difficult part is to decide ‘What to say’ and ‘How to say’. Meantime, the media planing choice – meaning through which channel will be launched – plays an important role as well.
A successful IMC campaign occurred in 2009 when the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) and the World of Music, Arts and Dance made an agreement to launch the first WOMAD event in the Middle East. The place would be Abu Dhabi and take place over three days: 23-25 April. The challenges were many: inform – previous polls revealed that the music event was barely know; excite and engage – bringing along diverse cultures together, gathering people from Abu Dhabi and the UAE; and indeed, being sure the world heard what was happening in Abu Dhabi.
The attendance would be free and The Media House (TMH) would be in charge of the IMC actions. Their target goal was to attract at the event over 5.000 people per night of which at least 5% should be UAE nationals, 20% expatriate Arabs, 20% expatriate Asians and 20% expatriate Westerns, ensuring most of them were aged over 30. From the beginning, TMH understood it was important to get a positive change in people’s minds to take an advantage of a potential opportunity: positioning Abu Dhabi as a global cultural destination.
IMC actions started by a pre-campaign research by which understanding the local community, mixed by 200 nationalities. Informal groups made people aware of WOMAD, delivering an attractive message of the artistic line-up and the advantages of learning for the children. After that process, the next step was to settle a brand identity. The chosen direction was ‘a festival uniting cultures through music’, giving an Arabic look to the traditional WOMAD lion.
Furthermore, they used what they called ‘cake’ as a communication strategy which was timing in three phases: the base, the cream and the cherry:
The base step was made through a website (womadabudhabi.ae), online banners on regional and global key webs and press activity, three of which became constant channels in the next two steps. Email address and a phone number was published into the web to customer’s queries. Radio was crucial to spread musical talent.
- The goal was to create awareness and it run from Mid-February to Mid-March.
The cream included 60-second radio spots, ‘eyes blasters’ online advertisement, outdoor ‘mupi’ sites with digital outdoor screens. Besides, some partnerships were created with Starbucks and Virgin stores which distributed flyers and concert programmes. A Twitter account and a Facebook group was set by the end of February and the PR efforts obtained free media positions by giving journalists exclusive access to interview the artists.
- In this point, THM had to draw people’s attention to the festival between Mid-march to Mid-April.
Finally, the cherry. As the campaign was working effectively, THM needed to fully amazed people using a media campaign.
- This phase aimed to push people to take an action, ensuring they attended to the festival making as much as possible in the week before the WOMAD.
In terms of results, the campaign had achieved its target regarding age and nationalities. The festival rate given by interviewers (89%) was between “very good” or “excellent” and 99% would recommend it or attend future editions. In total, 82.000 people attended to the WOMAD and by April 2009 the website had reached 38.000 total visits and 184.000 page views. Social media reached as well 1.166 Facebook members and 397 Twitter followers.
To conclude, despite the previous experiences of WOMAD along different cities (Caceres, Las Palmas, Singapore) THM had to adapt the festival to the particular characteristics of the society of UAE, promoting the multiculturalism through the integration of the marketing tools.
Corporate communications intends to build a corporate identity and culture, understood as the beliefs and values shared by the members of an organization and its stakeholders. In the paragraphs below, the author will break down the IMC plan from two clothing start-ups SomeWear and Rep Your Code, which share goals, target and values due to both are part of the same company in Montana (USA). The different phases are:
The first stage started by analysing the clothing industry in USA, which produces $225 billion in revenue per year. Because of that, the company narrowed its target market into two segments: lifestyle and behaviour. According to that, its target is set on male and female from Montana among 28 to 45 years old whose choices are brand and image rather than price and utility and are feel proud of where they live.
The competition is identified into three categories: Direct Competition as fourOsix; Small indirect competition as Cactus Records; and Large indirect competition as Walmart.
Finally, the report offers a SWOT analysis. The table below show the main results on each option.
Power of Montana state pride
No brand awareness
Tourists – among others
Cost of creating brand awareness
Through that previous analyse, the company found six potential opportunities which will be play a key role in its next communication strategy: college students, long time locals, extensions, local association, tourism and sport association. In addition to that, it is revealed several potential marketing channels and actions to take an advantage on them:
- Art competitors
- Poster, billboards, flyers
- College/ Local Events
- Environmentally friendly
- Online Retail/ Website
- Promotion/Pockets Points
- Sport Sponsorship
- Regional Campaigns
- Social Media
Goals and audience
As a main goal, the brands pursue to provide clothing products by which customers can self-express feelings of individuality but pride of community at the same time, in a stylish way. Thus, three marketing communications goals are set for this new one:
Create a brand image
As a result, the company developed a set of business goals in line with the marketing ones:
Launch a product
Profits to create more product lines
Positioning and key messages
In this step, the brand is ready to define its marketing communications efforts selecting the key messages and the desired positioning they want to project in its costumers. Its positioning statement is literally: “allows individuals a unique avenue of self-expression through a representative, and locally inspired brand”: Hence, the key messages are focused on:
- Products designed to demonstrate local pride and connection to Montana.
- Unique designs made by local artists.
- Self-expression to provide a way to express personal identity embracing the local culture.
- Representativeness: the level of accuracy on the designs is the key to represent a local reality which many individuals would like to connect with.
Strategic and Tactics
Once the messages and goals are clear, the next step is to arrange the strategies, meaning the path to follow in order to achieve the goals, as well as the tactics, the actions to implement those strategies.
The first goal is to develop a brand image so the first strategy is focused on design a logo, that reflects the identity of SomeWear; a tagline, easy to remember, and the layout of stickers where to print both of them. This phase continues with outdoor advertisement by flyers, billboards and poster formats. Besides, a co-branding is developed with local brewers that have deep connections with its potential segment market.
The second step is to create brand awareness. At this stage, the company chose to take part on different Montana’s events as a sponsor opportunity for the brand to introduce and relate it with its consumers. Public Relations make its apparition as well, to ensure the brand receive the media attention. Meantime, they launch a partnership with a local charity well respected by the community.
Apart from that, the brand organise social media contests sharing pictures with the hashtag #gosomewear and they introduce the Guerrilla Marketing, carrying out three actions: using its logo name on bice racks; setting photo booths in the centre of Bozeman and with beer labels peelable to stick anywhere. Outdoor advertising applies too and they introduce another sponsorship by the hand of local sport teams and organizations.
Finally, the third goal is to get consumer engagement, developed by digital marketing through social networks as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. Moreover, a website is designed in accordance with the brand identity to divulge the communication actions. To finish, direct marketing is selected to gathering subscriber emails into an email lists to keep them up-to-date and awarding them with especial promotions and discounts.
All those tactics, carefully budgeting, will be translated into useful economic results (ROI) which should be analysed and compared with the business objectives established previously by the company.
From the large number of marketing channels, it is proven that e-marketing communications has revolutionized the way how companies interact with costumers and vice-versa. In a short period of time, worldwide brands have implemented social media for a large range of uses. Social networks have been recognized as the new word-of-mouth (WOM). As a result, the trend has already reached the hotel industry where it has been proven its positive outcomes.
According to several studies, Facebook has been proclaimed as the most effective in this sector substituting advertising platforms. Among the multiple strategies, this media is highly recommended to increase brand awareness and orientation consumer behaviour towards booking actions through Facebook messages. Consequently, hotel content Facebook messages have been summarized in two types: emotional and rational.
Along 1.837 messages collected from 12 hotel Facebook pages during a certain period of time it was found out that, in one hand, that product and brand messages were the most effective in terms of receiving likes and shares and involvement messages were the best at producing consumer comments. In the other hand, from a format point of view, picture and video messages were on top of generating feedback.
Meanwhile, in other industries as movie production, social media has become a crucial part in getting sales. That is the case of Bollywood who has recently integrated social networks within its marketing strategy to promote film box office sales – 73% of Indian films are consumed at the cinema-. Despite there is no consensus on how to quantify the effect of social media messages on a film performance, it is a fact a mixed of social platforms can influence on the release date. The movie Queen was budgeted on $2.8m, making $250.000 on its first day and turning up to $10m after its third week.
The campaign was planned in three stages: Pre-release of movie soundtrack alongside promotion through different media channels; Release, keeping the same actions in combination with critic media review; and After-release, to get consumer feedback. The most successful point was the use of a social media campaign – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Facebook built brand communities and brought interactions; Twitter was used to disseminate customer’s feedback – mainly positive – and YouTube was a supplement for other kind of content. All together it created an emotional connection that efficiently increased box office sales.
Despite the many successful IMC cases, both agencies and clients confront challenges in terms of implementation of effective communications programmes.
As a part of a research among UK and New Zealand ad agencies, a unanimous opinion was obtained: “IMC is definitely the future”. In addition to that, 92% and 50% of the UK and New Zealand clients have needed an IMC plan according to the last survey related. Besides, in both countries, IMC was seen as more than the simply combination of advertising and PR programmes. In the US, the importance of IMC in branding was evident, however, over the past decade it was not understood as “a way to organise the overall business” and advertising was selected as the most powerful marketing channel.
Among this panorama, a new grown economy appeared on the scene: China. The Chinese marketplace has migrated from manufacturer and distributer oriented towards customer-oriented revolutionizing the marketing communications roles and functions in the Asian country.
A similar survey was sent to PR and advertising Chinese agencies, too. From the results, 83% of ad and 70% of PR agencies claimed they offer IMC services. Moreover, from a strategic point of view, it seems than Chinese executives understood the discipline as a “strategic business project”. Finally, advertising was seen as the most effective marketing tool, exactly as its colleagues in the west countries.
Nonetheless, in the post-modern Era, strategic marketing has gained interest so the disciplines of advertising, personal selling, PR and sales promotion and so on have been moved towards what it is the topic of this report, Integrated Marketing Communications. In less than 10 years, marketing has evolved to the unification of messages via Marketing, crowning branding at the top. Many studies have already proved the positive connection between branding strategy and financial profits and how consumers interact with brands regarding their ethical actions has been named as brand equity.
To conclude on this point, IMC has brought among agencies over the world a more “market-focussed creative thinking” to project better images and messages to consumers that are actively participants in the creation on them.
Marketing is not just a discipline by which promoting companies and their products but cities and nations, too. City marketing is sustained on the construction of the city’s image whose first point of action is the development of a city brand. The goals of doing that are to attract visitors to the city, contributing to the economic development, besides creating an identity link between the city and its residents. The marketing mix has the perfect tools to do so, however that must be followed by a strategy divided in for paths: design, infrastructure, basic services, and attractions in order to turn out a city into a spectacular place of consumption.
Vienna is a clear example of city’s brand successful when, in 2009, the Vienna Tourist Board (VTB) developed an international marketing research to find out the main elements of the Austria’s Capital. According to a research where 11.000 tourists were interviewed online, the results shown five main axes: imperial heritage, merger of music and culture, savoir vivre, functional efficiency and balance of urban and green areas. The city values were summarised in four: timelessness, quality, refinement and sensuality.
The logo was focused on sort of call to action: “now or never!”, keeping the red colour of the Vienna’s flag both the logo and the image were spreading through a website – www.viena.info – where tourists could find information related with visiting the city. The campaign included a persuasive strategy stimulating consumers to compare moments and experiences.
The promotion campaign was launched worldwide through different channels:
- Media: two 25 seconds spots.
- Outdoor ad: taxis from European cities were “mobile billboards” for Vienna.
- Direct Marketing: Online via several websites available in 12 different languages. Moreover, Facebook and Twitter accounts, besides a YouTube channel were set up for the campaign and are still available.
- Promotional Merchandising.
- Vienna’s card: the city offers a card by 18.50 euros with over 120 discounts on restaurants, museums, transports, etc.
The results ranked Vienna in 2010 as the second European city in growing the number of tourists, being constantly within the top 10 on the list and setting Vienna’s identity as the “capital of the music” and tourist activity brings 3.4 billion euros to the city every year. From a resident point of view, Vienna has become one of the best cities in terms of quality of live.
To conclude this report, it is necessary to remark that IMC is the path marketing has been driven at the post-modern era, being branding the spine in terms of business success. However, consumer behaviour has changed 360 degrees, achieving an active role and revolutionizing the way companies and consumers communicate, specifically after the apparition of social networks and digital marketing. This fact has increased the communication and marketing investment and has resulted into more effective and looked-after messages.
Patrick De Pelsmacker, Maggie Geuens, Joeri Van den Bergh. Marketing Communications. A European Perspective (2010). Fourth Edition, pp.2-21.
Greg Roberts, Reata Brannaman, Zach Merrill, Kendrich Wilson, Shelby Schwendenma (2016). Integrated Marketing Communications Plan. SomeWear.
Manfred Bruhn, Stefanie Schnebelen, (2017). “Integrated Marketing Communications – from an instrumental to a customer-centric perspective”. European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 Issue: 3, pp.464-489.
Xi Y. Leung, Billy Bai, Mehmet Erdem, (2017) “Hotel social media marketing: a study on message strategy and its effectiveness”, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 8 Issue: 2, pp.239 255.
Madhumita Nanda, Chinmay Pattnaik, Qiang (Steven) Lu, (2018) “Innovation in social media strategy for movie success: A study of the Bollywood movie industry”, Management Decision, Vol. 56 Issue: 1, pp.233-251.
Anvita Kumar (2013). Marketing Cases from Emerging Markets pp. 41-44. Case Study 5: Brands: The New Co-stars in Bollywood.
Lynne Eagle, Philip J. Kitchen, Sandy Bulmer, (2007) “Insights into interpreting integrated marketing communications: A two‐nation qualitative comparison”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 41 Issue: 7/8, pp.956-970
Philip J. Kitchen & Li Tao (2005) Perceptions of Integrated Marketing Communications: a Chinese ad and PR agency perspective, International Journal of Advertising, 24:1, 51-78.
Lynne Eagle, Philip Kitchen, Ken Hyde, Wilna Fourie & Mani Padisetti (1999) Perceptions of integrated marketing communications among marketers & ad agency executives in New Zealand, International Journal of Advertising, 18:1, 89-119
Tony Proctor, Philip Kitchen, (2002) “Communication in postmodern integrated marketing”, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 7 Issue: 3, pp.144-154, https://doi.org/10.1108/13563280210436754
Janek Ratnatunga & Michael T. Ewing (2005) THE BRAND CAPABILITY VALUE OF INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATION (IMC), Journal of Advertising, 34:4, 25-40.
Michalis Kavaratzis (2004). From city marketing to city branding: Towards a theoretical framework for developing city brands.
Ruxandra Irina Popescu, Răzvan Andrei Corbos (2011). Vienna’s branding campaign: Strategic option for developing Austria’s capital in a top tourism destination.
Any paid and non-personal communication launch by different media in the name of a company, non-profit organization or individual.
Marketing activity that consists on creating a brand image.
A term used in marketing to refer to the value added to the brand in terms of product or brand name.
Marketing activity focused on reaching consumers by direct means.
The situation in which people or business is competing with each other to sell the same product or service.
Marketing based on the use of digital tools.
A kind of online advertisement.
The situation in which people or business offer slightly different products or services, but compete for the group of people satisfying the same need.
Outdoor information panel using for advertising or public information.
Communication tool which is mainly use to communicate the goodwill of a company as a whole.
The perception, created by the company’s branding efforts, that resides in the consumer’s mind regarding the company, product, or service in relation to its competition.
The level of how well or how accurately a sample reflects upon a population.
An investment in cash or kind in activity, in return for access to the exploitable commercial potential associated with this activity.
(Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Analysis framework to identify and analyse the internal and external factors that can have impact on the viability of a project, product, place or person.
A group of consumers or organizations most likely to buy a company’s products or services.
 Author, Integrated Marketing Communications. An European Perspective.
 Greg Roberts, Reata Brannaman, Zach Merrill, Kendrich Wilson, Shelby Schwendenma (2016). Integrated Marketing Communication Plan.
 Manfred Bruhn, Stefanie Schnebelen, (2017) “Integrated marketing communication – from an instrumental to a customer-centric perspective”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 51 Issue: 3, pp.464-489.
 Xi Y. Leung, Billy Bai, Mehmet Erdem, (2017) “Hotel social media marketing: a study on message strategy and its effectiveness”, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 8 Issue: 2, pp.239 255.
 Madhumita Nanda, Chinmay Pattnaik, Qiang (Steven) Lu, (2018) “Innovation in social media strategy for movie success: A study of the Bollywood movie industry”, Management Decision, Vol. 56 Issue: 1, pp.233-251.
Anvita Kumar (2013). Marketing Cases from Emerging Markets pp. 41-44. Case Study 5: Brands: “The New Co-stars in Bollywood”.
 Lynne Eagle, Philip J. Kitchen, Sandy Bulmer, (2007) “Insights into interpreting integrated marketing communications: A two‐nation qualitative comparison”, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 41 Issue: 7/8, pp.956-970.
Lynne Eagle, Philip Kitchen, Ken Hyde, Wilna Fourie & Mani Padisetti (1999) Perceptions of integrated marketing communications among marketers & ad agency executives in New Zealand, International Journal of Advertising, 18:1, 89-119.
 Philip J. Kitchen & Li Tao (2005) Perceptions of Integrated Marketing Communications: a Chinese ad and PR agency perspective, International Journal of Advertising, 24:1, 51-78.
 Janek Ratnatunga & Michael T. Ewing (2005) THE BRAND CAPABILITY VALUE OF INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATION (IMC), Journal of Advertising, 34:4, 25-40.
 Michalis Kavaratzis (2004). From city marketing to city branding: Towards a theoretical framework for developing city brands.
 Ruxandra Irina Popescu, Răzvan Andrei Corbos (2011). Vienna’s branding campaign. Strategic option for developing Austria’s capital in a top tourism destination.
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