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Integrated Marketing Communications: Practice Leads Theory details how three different markets incorporate IMC, where importance is placed from culture to culture, how practice and implementation differs. IMC: Practice Leads Theory ends by pointing out the challenges these differences present when trying to measure the effectiveness of IMC. The study took place in South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, and studied IMC in three phases; first developing literature on the global and national perception of IMC, then understanding the universality and particularity of the IMC development process, and finally global diffusion of the IMC process.
Philip J Kitchen, University of Hull, UKLike the term strategic communication, IMC is hard to define because it the term IMC  changes significantly and regularly. Kitchen points out the changes by observing that prior IMC practices dealt with four mandated conditions: (1) planning that starts with receivers, (2) strategic consistency, (3) efficient control of participating agencies, and (4) perceived client understanding of IMC concepts. (pg 532) Now, IMC research measures the importance of developing “a growing mix of communication alternatives rather than the four major mass-media forms that grounded earlier.” (pg 532) Following in that progressive line of thought, John M. McGrath suggests a new definition for IMC, “IMC is a theoretical perspective that advocates a high level of communication interaction between a brand’s marketers and its consumers coupled with a high degree of message consistency across a brand’s entire marketing mix, ranging from the product itself to all marketing communications media.” (McGrath, pg. 364) For his research, McGrath attempts to utilize means-end analytical techniques to research the effects of IMC promoting facial tissue and pain reliever.For his research, McGrath place IMC to standards of values (comfort, peace of mind, enjoyment) consequences (soft, quick-acting, budget, relief) and attributes (price, fast acting, side effects) with his focus group marketing the products of facial tissue and pain reliever, McGrath was unable to determine if “measures of means-end cognitive structures for a given brand will be significantly different in response to a set of marketing communications stimuli that employ the IMC model than for those which employ a more traditional approach.” (McGrath, pg. 364) However, McGrath was able to possibly assist future research of the topic, opening up theories that consumers openly seek variety in their communications which in turn may assist brand diagnosticity. McGrath also believes that in researching the effects of IMC that the variables should be pre-tested themselves against each-other in order to achieve a goal of equal levels of affectivity between conditions before research takes place. Testing IMC in relationship to products and services without an equal standard of affectivity creates results that may be inconclusive or not understandable.

The second phase of the IMC evaluations deals with campaigns focusing on the customer. Maintaining a consistent strategy geared towards potential consumers was of great concern for both advertising and public relations campaign strategies, with both agencies placing more emphasis on consumer awareness that client understanding the goal of IMC (539). In Charles Taylor’s Integrated Marketing Communication: in 2010, he details some of the concerns ad agencies are faced with and how now, more than ever, it is important to coordinate all communication to the consumer. “Due to the much cited need for advertisers to stand out in a cluttered environment (e.g. Ha & McCann 2008), many advertisers using traditional media must include the potential (and even expected) synergistic effects of IMC in their planning processes” (Taylor 161). He uses the example of Super Bowl advertising to show how consumers are in fact the driving force behind successful IMC campaigns. Ad agencies invest about 2.5 million dollars in a 30 second ad to be aired during the Super Bowl, which averages about 106.5 million viewers.  Taylor noted how now more ads are being posted on YouTube and various other blog sites weeks before the actual gain to try and generate a positive buzz about a product or a company, while also attracting viewers to websites and other SMS. Viewers are now experiencing the product or company for more than a 30 second window. Taylor believes that IMC campaigns like this one, promoting synergy will help ad agencies see bigger returns on money spent in advertising. Kitchen also mentioned that while the customers are the main targets of IMC campaigns, clients are who actually have the most control over driving “successful” IMC campaigns (539).  In Integrated Marketing Communications- Then and Now, Steve Olenski chronicle how small business owners and CMO’s of larger companies alike have been implementing IMC practices since 1997. Most small business owners give credit to IMC for blending its online and offline tools around a single marketing strategy (Olenski 1).  He profiled BirthdayPak, a smaller company outside of Philadelphia, which mailed out “paks” to women consisting of birthday and gift cards to local businesses. In turn the women would go online and join the company’s site. The company used the IMC tactic to present a consistent message, tone, look and feel across the offline and online worlds (Olenski 2).

McGrath’s idea that varied responses could have an impact on IMC is tested by a study created by Alex Wang Shih-lun and Richard Alan Nelson which examined the “effects of identical versus varied advertising and publicity messages on consumers perceived information diagnosticity and purchase intentions.” (SLA Wang and R. A. Nelson, pg 109) Shih-lun and Nelson wished to determine if additional information not necessarily packaged in an advertising format would have a positive effect on the goals of IMC. The authors used communication campaigns regarding purchasing tennis rackets after offering literature regarding the rackets to detect if there was a noticeable difference between varied advertising or identical advertising. The authors tested the “information diagnosticity” by asking specific questions supported by the literature to make sure that they took the literature into account, and then asked if the literature itself was effective in helping the consumers make their decision about buying the racket. (SLA Wang and R. A. Nelson, pg. 116) Finally, they asked the customers if they would buy the product. The customers information showed that the customers who received varied multiple source messages about the product both in advertising and in separate produced information about the product itself were more inclined to purchase the product. This is due to the varied sources of communication establishing the product’s credibility to the consumer.

In conclusion, Kitchen noted that the way in which these different markets implement and measure success of IMC differs in each case. Difference in markets, approaches, and tactics all make evaluating the “success” of IMC campaigns difficult, each market viewing success in a different light.

Kitchen , P., Ilchul, K., & Schultz, D. (2009). Intergrated Marketing Communications: Practice Leads Theory.Journal of Advertising Research, (December), 531-546. Retrieved from http://moodle2.lsu.edu/pluginfile.php/219255/mod_resource/content/1/IMC_Practice_Leads_to_Theory.pdf

McGrath, J. (2010). Using means-end analysis to test integrated marketing communications effects.Journal of Promotion Management, 16(4), 361-387. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.libezp.lib.lsu.edu/ehost/detail?sid=2bc1c44f-31e6-47eb-9272-f5373bc01dde@sessionmgr10&vid=1&hid=8&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl

Olenski, S. (2012, May 31). Integrated marketing communications – then and now. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2012/05/31/integrated-marketing-communications-then-now/2/

Shih-Lun Alex, W., & Nelson, R. (2006). The Effects of Identical Versus Varied Advertising and Publicity Messages on Consumer Response. Retrieved from:
http://www.lib.lsu.edu/apps/onoffcampus.php?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=20917064&site=ehost-live&scope=site

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.google.com/imgres?q=philip j kitchen hull university&um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=safari&sa=N&rls=en&biw=1366&bih=605&tbm=isch&tbnid=5g7T3qd5mKwLBM:&imgrefurl=http://richardnelson.org/JPMboardcurrent.html&docid=7__8x1i0jy3FoM&imgurl=http://richardnelson.org/Philip%2520Kitchen%25201.jpg&w=268&h=352&ei=-EhKUIbiDJLs9AST1IGoBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=378&vpy=114&dur=73&hovh=257&hovw=196&tx=91&ty=138&sig=102723924995287211648&page=1&tbnh=127&tbnw=98&start=0&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0,i:81

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