Theoretical Concept or Management Fashion?
Theoretical Concept or Management Fashion? Examining the Significance of IMC Particularly throughout the last decade Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) appeared to have found increasing acceptance as a theoretical concept, Idea, technique, or simple rhetoric with advertising agency executives, marketing, and advertising practitioners, as well as with writers in the popular and academic marketing and management press.Despite its pervasive penetration in the marketing and communication management world, little has been said, however, about IMC’s theoretical robustness as well as its actual significance for marketing and advertising thought and practice. In an attempt to help remedy this situation, this articie examines IMC as a body of theory and hypothesizes its influence upon practice—as a theoretical concept, general idea, management technique, or simple rhetoric.
Also, with new media and technological advances in marketing abounding, writers have ever since deliberated upon the drastic changes that are (and will be) appearing in communication practices as well as in the marketing and advertising industry as a whole (e. g. , Zinkhan and Watson, 1996). These writers subsequently see the concept of IMC as a manifest outcome of this transformation of marketing communications in the 1980s (e. g. , Schultz, 1996a, 1999).Second, Phelps et al.
‘s (1996) remark also evokes the widely shared belief that IMC is a sort of overall, inclusive approach to marketing communications rather than being refined to singular aspects of marketing commurucations, e. g. , a consensus style in decision making or a form of “seamless communication,” i. e. , a consistency in marketing messages (e. g. , Haytko, 1996; Schultz, 1996a, 1999).
In doing so, however, IMC defies definition and perhaps becomes a too generic view, leading some to proclaim that the term has become meaningless.It died because we never could decide if it was a tool to help sell advertising and public relations agency services or if it was a true, concrete communications discipline” (Drobis, 1997, cited in Wightman, 1999). DEBATES ON THE THEORETICAL ROBUSTNESS OF IMC and signifiers of the company or brand is indeed fairly undisputed, the criticism and challenge raised by these authors is thus whether IMC is just nominal, representing no significant change in difference to traditional thought and practices.This debate over the boundaries and actual significance of IMC theory is still extant, adding to and illustrating the importance of drawing out the significance of IMC in practice. Devotees of IMC have espoused a number of counterarguments to the above criticism, each of which does not appear to fully counteract it. First, IMC devotees have argued that IMC is directly related to the changes in marketing communications, i. e.
, the logical outcome of these changes: a historicist argument that would implicate that the IMC concept is not a management fad.Schultz (1999), for example, argued that IMC is the natural evolution of mass-market media advertising to targeted direct marketing—from socalled “inside-out” to “outside-in” communication planning and execution. In his view, IMC is seen as a logical and historical progression In marketing communications: “… it appears to be the natural evolution of traditional mass-media advertising, which has been changed, adjusted and refined as a result of new technology” (Schultz, 1999).Equally, other authors have picked up on this argument and have considered IMC as a transitory period between the old, historical, product-driven, outbound marketing systems and the new, informativedriven, interactive, consumer-focused marketplaces of the 21st century (Eagle et al.
, 1999; Kitchen, 1999; Kitchen and Schultz, 1999). The difficulty with this historicist argument is, however, that conceptualizing and equating IMC with a particular periodization is not at all selfevident and is even problematic where a view of IMC as an omnipresent change is again too generic to be meaningful.Miller and Rose (1994), Wolter (1993), and Hutton (1996), among others, contend that marketing, advertising, and public relations practitioners had been adept at coordinating their efforts long before the term IMC came into vogue. Given that the importance of using multiple media, coordinating them, and having them consistent in their appeals IMC. I What, thus, is not being measured here is the concept described but instead the subjects’ perceptions of that concept.