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IMC At A Crossroads

IMC AT A CROSSROADS: A THEORETICAL REVIEW AND A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR TESTING John M. McGrath, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown This article examines the history, current state, and the future of ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications # M"$. The article addresses three ob%ectives& 'irst, it ex(lores M")s theoretical roots in other disci(lines and outlines the foundations of the conce(t in the existing literature* second, it discusses the current debate over the validity of the field* and third, it (ro(oses an M" conce(tual framewor! that could ma!e it (ossible to test the validity of the conce(t in future research.

IMC At A Crossroads

IMC AT A CROSSROADS: A THEORETICAL REVIEW AND A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR TESTING

INTRODUCTION ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications # M"$ has emerged as a distinct area of study, growing from the roots of (sychology, mar!eting and mass communications. ,es(ite its res(ected lineage, however, M" remains an immature field that has struggled to establish its own uni-ue body of literature. The origin of the M" conce(t can be traced to the 1./0s, when this terminology began to emerge in the literature of the (ublic relations field #1(otts, 2ambert and Joyce 1../$. The literature suggests that the conce(tual basis of M" #some movement toward the integration of mar!eting and communications$ has existed for years #3utton 1..4$, and (erha(s even decades, dating bac! to the early mar!eting literature #1(otts et al. 1../$. 5 !ey milestone in M")s emergence occurred in 1..1, when a tas! force of academics and (rofessionals was formed in an effort to agree on such fundamental issues as the most a((ro(riate terminology and definition of the M" conce(t #1(otts et al. 1../$. This tas! force was formed under the aegis of the 5ssociation for 6ducation in Journalism and Mass "ommunication #56JM"$. nterestingly, the tas! force actually debated the use of at least three different terms, 7integrated communications,8 7total communications,8 and 7 M"8 #,uncan, "aywood and 9ewsom 1..:$. 5lthough the tas! force did not forge a clear consensus on which term to use, 7 M"8 emerged as most commonly cited o(tion and began to enter the mainstream of mass communications and mar!eting discussion in the early 1..0s #1chult; 1../$. n recent years, however, a heated debate has emerged over M")s merits and validity. Pro(onents of the conce(t suggest that the conce(t re(resents a revolutionary way to organi;e and enhance their mar!eting efforts and build brand e-uity #,uncan +00+* <gden 1../* 1chult; 1..4* 1chult; et al. 1..:$. 1ome even consider M" to be essential for organi;ations to successfully execute their mar!eting communications efforts #"aywood and 6wing 1..1* Gorning 1..=$. "ritics of M", however, maintain that the conce(t is sim(ly a management 7fashion8 or a 7(o( management theory8 that lac!s a solid theoretical base #"ornelissen and 2oc! +000$. <thers contend that it suffers from ambiguity in terms of its definition and (ractice #>olter 1..:$, or that it sim(ly 7reinvents existing mar!eting theory using different terminology8 #1(otts et al.1../, (. +10$. 1ome critics even go so far as to (roclaim the death of the M" conce(t #,robis 1../$ because it has been misunderstood by so many (ractitioners and academics.

IMC At A Crossroads

<thers believe that M" is an attractive conce(t, but -uestion why more (ractitioners have not embraced it. 'or exam(le, Pettegrew #+001$ suggests that most ma%or U.1. cor(orations have failed to fully im(lement !ey as(ects of the M" theory. This view seems to be confirmed by "leland #1..?$, who cites research suggesting that less than one@third of all firms surveyed had develo(ed an annual mar!eting communications (lan. 6ven some su((orters of M" share concerns over its current state. >hile admitting that 7 M" is not yet a theory8 1chult; and Aitchen #+000, (. 1B$ suggest that the field is still develo(ing. They argue that many of wea!nesses cited above by critics are indicative of a field in its early stages of develo(ment. Gould #+000$ also defends M" as an evolutionary field, still undergoing a (rocess of definition and redefinition. 5nd ,uncan #+00+$ agrees that M")s ideas and (ractices should continue to be critically examined and challenged as M" continues to evolve. This article contributes to the M" discussion by reviewing the conce(t)s theoretical roots, outlining the conce(t)s foundations today, and (ro(osing a conce(tual framewor! that could be used to test the validity of the conce(t in future research. IMCS THEORETICAL ROOTS 5t its most fundamental level, the M" conce(t is an attem(t to understand how and why consumers res(ond to some mar!eting communications messages more (ositively than othersC and then to harness this learning to maximi;e the effectiveness of mar!eting communications (rograms. Much of the basis for M" is derived from the literature of the (sychology, which, in turn, has influenced the mass communications and mar!eting fields. 5n examination of these literature traditions hel(s ex(lain why and how consumers res(ond to mar!eting communications. Why Consume s Res!on" #o M$ %e#&n' Commun&($#&ons n order to understand how consumers react to mar!eting communications messages, it is im(ortant to examine how individuals relate to their environment. 3ac!ley and Aitchen #1../$ ac!nowledged this in their discussion of how the social constructionist (ers(ective relates to M". 5ccordingly, it is a((ro(riate to consult the social (sychology literature to understand the motivations consumers may have to res(ond to mar!eting communications a((eals. 1ymbolic self@com(letion theory #>ic!lund and Gollwit;er 1./+$ is hel(ful in this regard, suggesting that we all have a natural desire or need to 7com(lete8 our self@conce(ts. >e may have ac-uired many of the com(onents of our conce(ts organically, such as through intros(ection, social learning from (arents and even the media, or through social interactions with (eers. 3owever, this theory (osits that we may still ex(erience what we (erceive to be a ga( between the sum of these organic com(onents of the self and what we (erceive to be the 7com(lete8 definition of the self. 5s a result, we may turn to the ac-uisition of material goods to fill the ga(. Mar!eting communications can (lay a (owerful role in defining which s(ecific

IMC At A Crossroads

brands can best fill this void. n fact, mar!eting communication efforts can be seen as 7re(resentative of societal norms that hold emotional (ower to confer or withhold social acce(tance8 #Gomes, 2eu(old and 5lbracht 1../, (. 1+$. This (erceived (sychological need for acce(tance and com(letion becomes a ma%or o((ortunity for mar!eters who can (osition their (roducts as the ideal way for individuals to com(lete their self@conce(t #at least in the way the societyCor mar!etersCdefine it$. The notion of the extended self #Del! 1.//$ is also hel(ful in understanding why consumers res(ond to mar!eting communications messages. Del! suggests that our behavior is the result of a desire we have to 7extend8 our self@conce(t beyond our (hysical bodies and into the world around us. The mar!eting communications im(lications of Del!)s theory are (owerful& if a (roduct can be (ositioned as a desired, even re-uired, extension of a (erson)s self@conce(t, then it can en%oy an enhanced (osition in the mar!et(lace. Proof of this (henomenon in (ractice includes the ac-uisition of lifestyle accessories including luxury items such as clothing, im(orted luxury automobiles, and exotic vacations. To the extent that these (roducts can be mar!eted as society)s natural ex(ressions of the extended self, their mar!eters will benefit from Del!)s theory. n sum, these exam(les from the social (sychology literature suggest significant im(lications for the creation of mar!eting communications messages for brands to create a differential advantage over com(etitors. Ho) Consume s Res!on" #o M$ %e#&n' Commun&($#&ons 5 large body of literature suggests that individuals base many decisions concerning (roducts u(on their attitudes toward individual brands, and that these attitudes can be influenced by mar!eting communications. Eesearch into these issues owes much to the study of cognitive (sychology, dealing with the ways human beings (rocess external stimuli, including mar!eting communications messages. The 3ierarchy of 6ffects #3<6$ model is a useful starting (oint in the literature because it suggests that there is a way to understand #and influence$ the ways which mar!eting communications efforts could effectively change consumer attitudesCand ho(efully even consumer behavior. This (romise has hel(ed sustain the influence of the model for over a century, starting with some early wor! in the late 1/.0s by 2ewis #Darry and 3oward 1..0$. The 3<6 model suggests that consumers res(ond to mar!eting communications stimuli in a hierarchical manner of three (sychological and behavioral stages& cognitive, affective, and conative. This original 3<6 model was develo(ed to hel( ex(lain how the (ersonal selling (rocess wor!ed. <ver time, the original model has been ada(ted to hel( ex(lain how consumers res(ond to mar!eting communications messages. Two exam(les of these ada(tations are the 5 ,5 Model #1trong 1.+?$, and the 2avidge@1teiner Model #2avidge and 1teiner 1.41$. McGuire)s #1.4/$ nformation Processing Model # PM$ (ro(osed an alternative view of the (ersuasion (rocess which builds u(on the 3<6 model by (ro(osing a se-uence of six ste(s

IMC At A Crossroads

which the (rocess of (ersuasion is (resumed to follow& Presentation #of the stimuli$, 5ttention, "om(rehension, Fielding, Eetention, and finally <vert Dehavior #Perry 1..4$. The PM influenced the develo(ment of other, related models including those develo(ed by 6ngel et al. #1..:$ and Thorson #1..0$. These models have had a ma%or influence on the mar!eting communications field, (articularly through advertising agency media (lanning models which account for the need to establish fre-uency of ex(osure to consumers #that will eventually cause consumers to yield and retain messages$. Petty and "acio((o)s #1./4$ 6laboration 2i!elihood Model #62M$ also attem(ts to ex(lain how consumers (rocess mar!eting communications messages. The 62M)s two routes to (ersuasion, central and (eri(heral, have im(ortant im(lications for the mar!eting communications field. 'or exam(le, messages for certain brands which have been develo(ed in a manner which encourages central (rocessing can lead to the creation of relatively strong and long@lasting attitudes about the messages. "onversely, the 62M suggests mar!eting communications messages that em(loy su(erficial or (eri(heral techni-ues #i.e., attractiveness of the message (resenter, the credibility of the message source, etc.$ will not be as long lasting or as resistant to change as those (rocessed centrally #Petty and "acio((o 1./4$. The 3euristic@1ystematic Model #6agly and "hai!en 1..:$ is another a((roach which is similar in many res(ects to the 62M, and addresses the (ossibility of multi(le consumer motivations. The 31M)s two routes to (ersuasion are summed u( in its title& 7heuristic8 and 7systematic,8 which mirror the 62M)s (eri(heral and central (rocessing modes. The four models discussed so far (rovide useful insights into the cognitive (rocesses that consumers use to react to mass communications messages. 3owever, they do very little to ex(lain the lin! between these cognitive activities and the motivations consumers have for considering the messages. There is a model which ma!es this lin!, the "ognitive 1tructureG"ognitive Ees(onse Model #"1G"EM$, and it may be the most insightful for understanding how consumers res(ond to mar!eting communications. The "1G"EM builds on the wor! of 'ishbein)s attitude theory #<lson, Toy and ,over 1./+$ and suggests that consumers react to mar!eting communications messages by creating conce(tual images of the messages in their mind #structures$Cand then establishing a lin!age between these images and a set of beliefs about the images. These cognitive structures have im(ortant relevancy for mar!eting communications because the model suggests that they can be (owerful (redictors of attitudes, behavioral intentions toward the brand, and ultimately, even overt behavior, such as the act of (urchasing #<lson et al. 1./+$. More recent wor! in the "1G"EM area has hel(ed to better ex(lain the lin! between consumers) cognitive structures and the motivation for behavior #i.e., this motivation will be strong if beliefs about the brand correlate well with the consumer)s own self conce(t$. This lin!age is (rovided through the notion of the 7activated self,8 a critical com(onent of the "ognitive 1tructure Model of 1elf #>al!er and <lson 1..B$. The activated self describes those as(ects of a consumer)s self@

IMC At A Crossroads

conce(t that are activated in certain situations, such as when one is (articularly self@conscious #i.e., a first date, or (resenting a re(ort at a meeting of total strangers$. These activated as(ects account for only a small (ortion of an individual)s com(lete set of cognitive structures about the core self, a networ! of beliefs that re(resent 7the most stable self@!nowledge with the broadest motivational (ower8 #>al!er and <lson 1..B, (. 14?$. <nce activated, however, these as(ects of the self can be very influential in motivating behavior. This is (articularly true when the activated structures re(resent as(ects of the individual)s most closely held values and goals. m(ortantly, consumers also develo( cognitive structures about brands, either through ex(erience with using them, or through ex(osure to mar!eting communications messages. 5t the time of activation, a consumer may ma!e the connection between highly@im(ortant value cognitive structures and existing cognitive structures held about a s(ecific brand. This (rovides the o((ortunity for mar!eters to (osition brands in such a way as to encourage the creation of such relevant lin!s with im(ortant consumer values. The relevancy of the "EG"1M to M" is that it (rovides a framewor! for examining the role of s(ontaneous cognitive res(onses generated by ex(osure to a mar!eting communications message u(on consumer attitudes toward the message, the brand itself, and u(on behavioral intentions. t also (rovides a framewor! for examining the cognitive structures that consumers may create about a brand, and how these structures relate to their own self values. The study of these relationshi(s can (rovide a window through which to view the dee(er meanings consumers may attach to a brandCand to its mar!eting communications. THE IMC CONCEPT IN TODA*S LITERATURE Dased largely on the theoretical roots reviewed above, a body of literature has emerged that attem(ts to su((ort the M" conce(t. t suggests that M" is based u(on three theoretical foundations. The first foundation (ro(oses that M" is based on an ongoing dialogue between consumers and mar!eters #,uncan +00+, 1..=* 1chult; 1../* 1tewart 1..4$. This dialogue is seen as a 7relationshi(8 between the two (arties, which is sub%ect to organic changes including growth, dormancy, or decline. Mar!eters actively see! out information about their consumers, and through the use of databases and mar!et research tools, find ways to strengthen their brand)s relationshi( with the consumer. 2i!ewise, consumers also see! out information about brands, and use their own resources to develo( a relationshi( with the brand, including the rece(tion and (rocessing of mar!eting communications messages with brand information, actively considering how basic brand attributes and benefits fit with their own self@conce(t, and considering other information such as the o(inions of friends and family. Mar!eters could add value to their brands if they successfully create and nurture these ty(es of relationshi(s. 1chult; et al. #1..:$ argue that M" can hel( in this regard by (romoting consistency in a brand)s interaction with the consumer, resulting in a stronger, more focused relationshi(. This ty(e of solid, two@way relationshi( is seen as a !ey element of M", and is consistent with the social (sychology (ers(ective suggested by the wor! of >ic!lund and Gollwit;er, Del!, and others.

IMC At A Crossroads

The second foundation of the M" conce(t (ro(oses that message consistency across all elements of the mar!eting mix, (articularly throughout all mar!eting communications messages, is essential. <ther terms for this message consistency are 7one@voice8 and 7seamless8 communications #Phel(s and Johnson 1..4$. This notion 7involves maintaining a clear and consistent image, (osition, message andGor theme across all mar!eting communications disci(lines or tools8 #Phel(s and Johnson 1..4, (. 14+$. Eeilly #1..1$ suggests such one@voice consistency can be established at the beginning of an M" cam(aign through the ado(tion of a single strategy that unifies all messages communicated to consumers about the brand. 1nyder agrees, noting that M" is achieved when a 7single (ositioning conce(t8 is develo(ed for a brand Cand then executed in all communications #1nyder 1..1, (. :+$. 1chult; #1..4$ ex(lains that the desire for such a high degree of consistency in the M" conce(t is driven by the com(lexity of consumer information (rocessing re-uired by the multitude of com(eting brand stimuli in today)s mar!et(lace. 3e argues that a brand message which is relatively more consistent in its message and execution across all mar!eting vehicles em(loyed by the brand is more li!ely to be (rocessed effectively by a consumer. The im(ortance (laced u(on message consistency in sim(lifying message (rocessing is consistent with some of the cognitive (sychology (ers(ectives discussed earlier, (articularly those of >al!er and <lson. The third foundation of the M" conce(t (ro(oses that all as(ects of a brand)s relationshi( with a consumer must be considered, not %ust the traditional (romotion vehicles of advertising, direct mar!eting, sales (romotion, (ublic relations and (ersonal selling #,uncan +00+, 1..=* 1chult; and Aitchen +000* 1chult; et al. 1..:* 1tewart 1..4$. Peltier, Mueller and Eosen #1..+$ reason that the traditional mar!eting communications vehicles noted above are not mutually exclusive tools and that coordinating messages across them 7may %ointly maximi;e their uni-ue strengths, while minimi;ing their wea!nessesH8 #Peltier et al. 1..+, (. =1$. ,e2o;ier #1.B4$ even suggests that an exclusive focus on only these traditional (romotion vehicles can be counter(roductive for an organi;ation)s total mar!eting communications effort. M" (ro(onents suggest that the conce(t can be im(lemented effectively only if all elements of the mar!eting mix are coordinated, and that a consistent brand message must be integrated across the entire range, all the way from the brand)s name and (hysical attributes to (ricing, distribution, as well as the traditional (romotional tools noted above. 1him( #1..0$ concurs, suggesting that 7the true test of a (roduct)s communication effectiveness is how consumers res(ond to the total (roduct8 including all the use of all the vehicles noted above #1him( 1..0, (. ?/$. This holistic a((roach to using all mar!eting vehicles in concert is consistent with both the social and cognitive (sychology literature discussed above, since it suggests that mar!eters could benefit by coordinating all the tools at their dis(osal to create messages which consumers choose to (rocess and ma!e their ownCand which become (art of their cognitive structures, waiting to be activated by ex(osure to a mar!eting communications stimuli. n sum, the three foundations of the M" conce(t (romise an o((ortunity for mar!eters to enhance the relationshi( (ower of their brands with consumers. They (ro(ose that a strategy em(loying messages that are executed consistently across all vehicles of a brand)s mar!eting

IMC At A Crossroads

mix, and which foster an ongoing consumer@brand relationshi( dialogue, will generate enhanced consumer a((eal. HOW DOES IMC WORK+ The M" literature is clear on the foundations of the M" conce(t. 3owever, it begs an even more im(ortant -uestion& how does M" wor!I Two ex(lanations can be drawn from the literature. 'irst, the literature suggests that a mar!eting communications strategy em(loying an M" strategy would be more com(etitive in an environment where consumers are inundated with growing volumes of com(eting message stimuli. n such an environment, 1chult; et al. #1..:$ argue that consumers, by necessity, may be ca(able of retaining relatively less information about a relatively larger number of brand mar!eting messages. 5s a result, a brand em(loying a the M" strategy of message consistency would theoretically stand a better chance of seeding its single, unified message with the consumer than brands which attem(t to seed a number of different messages. 1econd, a brand em(loying the M" strategy of integrating different ty(es of vehicles may create a stronger image trace in consumers) memory. The im(lication of this stronger trace is that it might be more easily (rocessed than a series of brand messages which offer bits of conflicting, or at least not highly consistent, information across different vehicles #1chult; et al. 1..:$. t is then ho(ed that the su(erior (rocessing (otential of an M" strategy would translate into more desirable effects, including attitudes toward the message, toward the brand, and even enhanced buying intentions. Eesearch to su((ort the notion that some message creative strategies can create distinctive memory traces is described in the literature for imagery (rocessing. 'or exam(le, Pavio and "sa(o #1.B:$ loo!ed at the relative im(act of different stimuli on test sub%ects) memory of ob%ects. They tested the effects of 7concrete8 words, 7abstract8 words, and (ictures, and found that consumer memory of test ob%ects was the greatest when (ictures and 7concrete8 words were combined interactively, (resumably because this created the most (owerful imagery trace #Mac nnis and Price 1./B$. 2ut; and 2ut; #1.BB$ also found evidence su((orting the imagery@ enhancing effects of integrating visual and verbal stimuli. n their ex(eriment, they mani(ulated the (lacement of (roduct brand name, a (roduct attribute, and a (icture in various test advertisements. They found that memory was affected (ositively when the brand name, (roduct attribute, and (icture were combined interactively in one stimulus versus when they were (resented se(arately in a non@interactive format. n another ex(eriment loo!ing at the effects of advertising message stimuli of consumer memory, "hilders and 3ouston #1./=$ found some additional evidence of a (ositive relationshi( between advertisements integrating a (icture with other visual cues and stronger imagery resulting in higher levels of brand recall. They hy(othesi;ed that this (ositive effect of integration may be due to the 7chun!ing8 of these stimuli at the time they are encoded by the brain. This may create more (owerful imagery than is

IMC At A Crossroads

(ossible when each stimulus is (rocessed by the brain individually. They concluded that the stronger memory trace caused by chun!ing may lead to easier retrievalCand hence recall #Mac nnis and Price 1./B$. This memory@enhancing role of the combined stimulus of different ty(es of imagery may hold s(ecial significance for the vehicle integration com(onent of the M" conce(t. t suggests that messages that are conce(tually consistent across different vehicles might have an enhanced im(act on consumers) cognitive structures, creating memory traces that are reactivated and strengthened u(on ex(osure to subse-uent ex(osures of different vehicles using the same conce(tual themes. This reactivation of existing memory traces by messages that are integrated conce(tually across multi(le vehicles may have a more (owerful im(act u(on (ersuasion than either the sim(le re(etition of a message in one vehicle #i.e., on the (ac!age or in an advertisement$ or by ex(osure to multi(le messages across different vehicles that are not consistent conce(tually. This is one as(ect of the M" conce(t that offers a challenge and o((ortunity to ma!e a uni-ue contribution to the existing literature. 1(ecifically, the challenge is to test if an M" strategy, em(loying message consistency across a number of different vehicles, can ma!e a uni-ue im(act on consumer cognitive structures. f such evidence could be found, then (erha(s M" could add some new value to the existing literature traditions it draws u(on. A PROPOSED IMC CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK To hel( visuali;e the M" conce(t and (rovide a basis for testing its validity, a framewor! is (ro(osed which focuses on two of M")s !ey foundations described earlier, integration of multi(le vehicles, and consistency of message. The third foundation of the M" conce(t, consumer@mar!eter dialogue, is not considered in this ty(ology, but could be added in future models. The first M" foundation, sco(e of vehicle integration, can be conce(tuali;ed as a continuum of the number of different mar!eting vehicles used. ,uncan #+00+$ has identified a wide range of vehicles that can be considered (art of a brand)s M" (rogram. These vehicles reflect not only the traditional one@way flow of mar!eting communications from the mar!eter of the brand to the consumer, but also more recent two@way ty(es of mar!eting communications which reflect the dialogue nature of M" described earlier. ,uncan)s list of traditional one@way vehicles includes advertising, (ublic relations, sales (romotion, s(ecialty items, merchandising, (ac!aging and licensing. Jehicles identified by ,uncan #+00+$ as more two@way in nature include (ersonal sales, direct res(onse mar!eting, events and s(onsorshi(s, trade shows, e@commerce and customer service activities. The low end of the continuum suggests a condition with minimal level of vehicle integration #i.e., the (roduct would have little or no su((ort by mar!eting communications vehicles such as advertising$. 5 condition featuring a moderate level of integration would be consistent with the definition develo(ed by the 5merican 5ssociation of 5dvertising 5gencies #1tewart 1..4$, in

IMC At A Crossroads

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which multi(le elements of the traditional mar!eting communications mix would be integrated #i.e., advertising as well as (ublic relations, direct mar!eting, sales (romotions and (ersonal selling$. 'inally, a condition at the high vehicle integration end of the continuum would be consistent with the 1chult; et al. #1..:$ insistence that 7almost everything the mar!eter does relates to or (rovides some form of communication to customers or (ros(ects8 #1chult; et al. 1..:, (. =?$ as well as with ,uncan)s #+00+$ broad list of vehicles noted earlier. 5t this high end of the continuum, the sco(e of vehicle integration would include everything from the design of the (roduct itself to its (ac!aging, its distribution, its (ricing, and its mar!eting communications efforts. The second M" foundation, degree of message consistency, could also be conce(tuali;ed as a continuum. The existing literature is vague about a (recise ex(lication of the term message 7consistency,8 with little agreement on exactly what it means for elements of an M" (ortfolio to be 7consistent.8 1tewart #1..4$ suggests that M" re-uires 7clarity #and$ consistency8 between mar!eting communications stimuli, and ,uncan #1..=$ (ro(oses that they have a 7consistent voice and loo!.8 Perha(s a hel(ful lens through which to view this conce(t would be the notion of message consistency. Dy loo!ing at message consistency as a continuum, a range of conce(tuali;ations can be accommodated. 1(ecifically, one extreme end of the continuum would include a condition in which brand messages strictly adhere to the notion of a one@voice and seamless #Phel(s and Johnson 1..4$ cam(aign across different executions of a single strategy #Eeilly 1..1$. This condition would be re(resented by grou(s of executions across different vehicles #i.e., (ac!aging, advertising, e@commerce, etc.$ that are highly consistent in terms of visual imagery #including color schemes, logos, and other design elements$, as well as verbal andGor text themes #including body co(y, taglines and other devices$. To the consumer, this condition would re(resent the highly consistent im(lementation of a single message strategy. 5n intermediate (oint along this consistency continuum would be re(resented by a moderate condition in which it would a((ear to consumers that grou(s of executions across different vehicles shared a common strategic theme #i.e., 7Just ,o t8$, but that this strategy was im(lemented through the use of a range of visual imagery and verbal andGor text themes which varied more in their execution between vehicles than the highly consistent condition. <n the other extreme of the continuum would be a condition that re(resents very diverse and relatively inconsistent im(lementation of a common message strategy across different vehicles. 1(ecifically, in this low consistency condition, visual imagery as well as verbal andGor text themes would vary widely in their im(lementation on (ac!aging, in mar!eting communications efforts, as well as in other as(ects of the cam(aign. To visuali;e the interaction of these two conce(tual ranges, a two@dimensional diagram is (ro(osed in 'igure 1 below, with vehicle integration re(resented by the hori;ontal axis and level of message consistency re(resented by the vertical axis. 5 synthesis of the definitions of M" offered in the literature suggests that the M" conce(t would be re(resented by a (osition in the extreme u((er right hand box of the diagram.

IMC At A Crossroads

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@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ 'igure 1 about here @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ M")s re(resentation would be characteri;ed by the coordinated use of multi(le vehicles to deliver a brand)s mar!eting cam(aign cou(led with a high degree of message consistency across all of the different mar!eting vehicles em(loyed in the effort, ranging from the (roduct itself to all forms of mar!eting communications executions. CONCLUSIONS,DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH The discussion so far has attem(ted to establish that the M" conce(t can be grounded in the literature traditions of (sychology, as well as mass communications and mar!eting. 3owever, it should also demonstrate that M" will remain a highly s(eculative field in search of its own theory until a fundamental -uestion is addressed in a meaningful way, (referably through em(irical research. The M" conce(tual framewor! (resented above could serve as a starting (oint from which to study this -uestion. 'or exam(le, an ex(erimental research design could be constructed to test the effects of different conditions on consumers. 1(ecifically, a test could be constructed which would re(resent an M" condition #the extreme u((er right hand box$ by creating stimulus materials which em(loyed multi(le vehicles #(erha(s a (roduct (ac!age sam(le, a (rint ad for the (roduct, a cou(on, a s(ecialty item, a news story (rom(ted by a brand (ress release, and a web site$, and which em(loyed a high level of message consistency. This condition could be tested against each of the other conditions de(icted by the other boxes on 'igure 1. Eesearchers could o(erationali;e the variable of vehicle integration by creating the ty(es of low, moderate, and high conditions de(icted in 'igure + below. The different levels of vehicle usage could be then be -uantified #for exam(le, the low condition might re(resent the use of two vehicles* the moderate condition might re(resent three to six vehicles* and the high condition might re(resent the use of seven or more vehicles$. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ 'igure + about here @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Eesearchers could o(erationali;e the variable of message consistency by creating the ty(es of low, moderate and high conditions de(icted in 'igure : below. The different levels of message consistency could be -uantified and com(ared through a (re@testing (rocedure em(loying message consistency -uestionnaire scales. 1uch a scale could be ada(ted from 2ow #+000$ who

IMC At A Crossroads

1+

em(loyed it in a survey investigating the use of M" in U.1. businesses. 2ow found that this scale offered acce(table levels of internal reliability. The three items of this scale were (refaced by the statement 7describe your feelings about the materials considered together as a grou(...8. 6ach of the three items in this scale em(loyed seven@(oint bi(olar semantic differential scales anchored by the statements 7disagreeGagree.8 The first item as!ed if sub%ects (erceived that the materials 7loo! li!e they were all (lanned and develo(ed by the same team of (eo(le.8 The second item as!ed if sub%ects thought 7all the (ieces loo! li!e they fit together in one consistent strategy.8 The third item as!ed if the materials 7all focus on a common message.8 Using such a scale, the variable of message consistency could be -uantified in a (retest #for exam(le, the low condition could be re(resented by mean scores of 0 to a((roximately :.0 on a seven@(oint consistency scale* the moderate condition by mean scores of a((roximately :.0 to ?.0 on the scale* and the high condition by mean scores of a((roximately ?.0 or higher$. @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ 'igure : about here @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ The critical (ortion of future research, as suggested above, would be to test the M" condition versus the others. 1(ecifically, consumers could be ex(osed to the materials re(resenting different conditions in an ex(erimental setting and as!ed to (rovide their assessment using commonly acce(ted (ersuasion effectiveness measures, including attitude toward the ad #5ad $, attitude toward the act of (urchasing the (roduct #5act$, attitude toward the advertised brand itself #5b$, and behavioral intentions toward the advertised brand #D $. 1uch an ex(erimental research a((roach could begin to test the validity of at least two of the foundations of M" theory, vehicle integration and message consistency. t could also serve as a catalyst for future wor! in the field, which would hel( build M" theory and hel( fuel the constructive discussion about the field.

IMC At A Crossroads

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REFERENCES Darry, Thomas 6. and ,aniel J. 3oward #1..0$, 75 Eeview and "riti-ue of The 3ierarchy of 6ffects in 5dvertising,8 International Journal of Advertising, ., 1+1@1:?. Belk, Richard (1988), Possessions and the Extended Self, Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 1:.@14/. "aywood, "lar!e and Eaymond 6wing #1..1$, 7 ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications& 5 9ew Master)s ,egree "once(t,8 Public Relations Review, 1B #:$, +:B@+==. "hilders, Terry. 2. and Michael. J. 3ouston #1./=$, 7"onditions for a Picture@1u(eriority 6ffect on "onsumer Memory,8 Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 4=:@4?=. "leland, Aim #1..?$, 75 2ot of Tal!, 2ittle 5ction on M",8 Business Marketing, /0 #:$, 1. "ornelissen, Jose( P. and 5ndrew E. 2oc! #+000$, 7Theoretical "once(t or Management 'ashionI 6xamining the 1ignificance of M",8 Journal of Advertising Research, =0 #1e(tember@<ctober$, B@1:. ,e2o;ier, M. >ayne #1.B4$, The Marketing Communications Process, 9ew For!, 9F& McGraw@3ill. ,robis, ,avid E. #1../$, 7 ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications Eedefined,8 Journal of Integrated Communications, =, retrieved from the >orld >ide >eb May 1B, +00+ at& htt(&GGwww.medill.northwestern.eduGimcGstudentwor!G(ubsG%icG%ournalG1../.htm. ,uncan, Thomas E. #+00+$, IMC: sing Advertising and Promotion to Build Brands, 9ew For!, 9F& McGraw@3ill, nc. ,uncan, Thomas E. #1..=$, 79ew 1ides of M",8 in 'aure, "., and 2. Alien #6ds.$ Marketing Communications !trategies Toda" and Tomorrow: Integration# Allocation# and Interactive Technologies, "ambridge, M5& Mar!eting 1cience nstitute. ,uncan, Thomas E. and 1te(hen 6. 6verett #1..:$, 7"lient Perce(tions of ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications,8 Journal of Advertising Research, ::, :0@:.. ,uncan, Thomas E., "lar!e "aywood and ,oug 9ewsom #1..:$, Pre$aring Advertising and Public Relations !tudents for the Communications Industr" in the %&st Centur": A Re$ort of the Task 'orce on Integrated Communications(

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6agly, 5lice 3. and 1helly "hai!en #1..:$, The Ps"cholog" of Attitudes, 9ew For!, 9F& Drace Jovanovich. 6ngel, James '., Eoger ,. Dlac!well and Paul >. Miniard #1..:$, Consumer Behavior, Bth ed., 2ondon& ,ryden, :.1@=1B. Gomes, Mary 6., 1te(hen 2eu(old, and Matthew 5lbracht #1../$, 75dvertising, "ommunity, and 1elf,8 Re)ision, +0 #=$, +4@:B. Gorning, Matthew P. #1..=$, 7Putting ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications to >or! Today,8 Public Relations *uarterl", :. #:$, =?@=.. Gould, 1te(hen. J. #+000$, 7The 1tate of M" Eesearch and 5((lications,8 Journal of Advertising Research, =0, ++. 3ac!ley, "hristo(her and Phili( Aitchen #1../$, 7 M"& 5 "onsumer Psychological Pers(ective,8 Marketing Intelligence and Planning, 14 #:$, ++.@+:?. 3utton, James G. #1..4$, 7 ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications and The 6volution of Mar!eting Thought,8 Journal of Business Research, :B, 1??@14+. 2avidge, Eobert J. and Gary 5 1teiner #1.41$, 75 Model for Predictive Measurements of 5dvertising 6ffectiveness,8 Journal of Marketing, +?, ?.@4+. 2ow, George 1. #+000$, 7"orrelates of ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications,8 Journal of Advertising Research, =0, +B@:.. 2ut;, Aathy 5. and Eichard J. 2ut; #1.BB$, 7The 6ffects of nteractive magery and 2earning& 5((lication to 5dvertising,8 Journal of A$$lied Ps"cholog", 4+, =.:@=./. Mac nnis, ,eborah J. and 2inda 2. Price #1./B$, 7The Eole of magery in nformation Processing& Eeview and 6xtensions,8 Journal of Consumer Research, 1:, 1@+:. McGuire, >illiam J. #1.4/$, 7Personality and 5ttitude "hange& 5n nformation Process Theory,8 in Ps"chological 'oundations of Attitudes, Greenwald, 5.G., Droo!, T."., and <strom T.M., eds., 9ew For!, 9F& 5cademic Press. <gden, James E. #1../$, +evelo$ing a Creative and Innovative Integrated Marketing Communications Plan, U((er 1addle Eiver, 9J& Prentice 3all, nc. <lson , Jerry "., ,aniel E. Toy and Philli( 5. ,over #1./+$, 7,o "ognitive Ees(onses Mediate the 6ffects of 5dvertising "ontent on "ognitive 1tructureI8 Journal of Consumer Research, ., +=?@+4+.

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Pavio, 5llan and Aalman "sa(o #1.B:$, 7Picture 1u(eriority in 'ree Eecall& magery or ,ual "odingI8 Cognitive Ps"cholog", ?, 1B4@+04. Peltier, James >., Darbara Mueller and Eichard G. Eosen #1..+$, 7,irect Ees(onse Jersus mage 5dvertising,8 Journal of +irect Marketing, 4 #1$, =.@44. Pettegrew, 2loyd 1. #+001$, 7 f M" s 1o Good, >hy sn)t it Deing m(lementedI Darriers to M" 5do(tion in "or(orate 5merica,8 Journal of Integrated Communications, B, retrieved from the >orld >ide >eb May 1B, +00+ at& htt(&GGwww.medill.northwestern.eduGimcG studentwor!G(ubsG%icG%ournalG+001.htm. Perry, ,avid A. #1..4$, Theor" and Research in Mass Communication: Conte,ts and Conse-uences# Mahwah, 9J& 2awrence 6rlbaum. Petty, Eichard 6. and John T. "acio((o #1./4$, Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peri$heral Routes to Attitude Change, 9ew For!, 9F& 1(ringer@Jerlag. Phel(s, Jose(h and 6dward Johnson #1..4$, 76ntering the Kuagmire& 6xamining the LMeaning) of ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications,8 Journal of Marketing Communications, +, 1?.@1B+. Eeilly, James ". #1..1$, 7The Eole of ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications in Drand Management,8 The Advertiser, 1 #'all$, :+@:?. 1chult;, ,on 6., 1tanley . Tannenbaum and Eichard '. 2auterborn, #1..:$# The .ew Marketing Paradigm# Integrated Marketing Communications, "hicago, 2& 9T" Publishing. 1chult;, ,on 6. #1..4$ 7The nevitability of ntegrated "ommunications,8 Journal of Business Research, :B, 1:.@1=4. 1chult;, ,on 6. #1../$, 79ew "entury 9eeds 9ew Marcom Methods,8 Marketing .ews, :+, #:$, 1+@1:. 1chult;, ,on 6. and Philli( .J. Aitchen #1..B$, 7 ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications in U.1. 5dvertising 5gencies& 5n 6x(loratory 1tudy,8 Journal of Advertising Research, :B #?$, B@1/. 1chult;, ,on 6. and Philli( J. Aitchen #+000$, 75 Ees(onse to LTheoretical "once(t or Management 'ashionI)8 Journal of Advertising Research, =0, 1B. 1him(, Terrence 5. #1..0$, Promotion Management And Marketing Communications, "hicago, 2.& ,ryden Press. 1nyder, Deth #1..1$, 7Eethin!ing L ntegrated,)8 Advertising Age, 4+ #=4$, :+. 1(otts, 3arlan 6., ,avid E. 2ambert and Mary 2. Joyce #1../$, 7Mar!eting ,M%N Ju& The

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,iscovery of ntegrated Mar!eting "ommunications,8 Journal of Marketing /ducation, +0, +10@ +1.. 1tewart, ,avid >. #1..4$, 7Mar!et@Dac! 5((roach to the Message of ntegrated "ommunications Programs& 5 "hange in Paradigm and a 'ocus on ,eterminants of 1uccess,8 Journal of Business Research, :B, 1=B@1?:. 1trong, 6dward A. #1.+?$, The Ps"cholog" of !elling, 9ew For!, 9F& McGraw@3ill. Thorson, 6sther #1..0$, 7"onsumer Processing of 5dvertising,8 in Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 5nn 5rbor, M & University of Michigan. >al!er, Deth 5. and Jerry ". <lson #1..B$, 7The 5ctivated 1elf in "onsumer Dehavior& 5 "ognitive 1tructure Pers(ective,8 Research in Consumer Behavior, /, 1:?@1B1. >ic!lund, Eobert 5. and Peter M. Gollwit;er #1./+$, !"mbolic !elf0Com$letion, 3illsdale, 9J& 2awrence 6rlbaum. >olter, 2ou #1..:$, 71u(erficiality, 5mbiguity Threaten M")s m(lementation and 'uture.8 Marketing .ews, +B, 1+.

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'igure 1. 5 Pro(osed M" "once(tual 'ramewor!

Vehicle Integration

2ow

Moderate

IMC Condition

3igh

3igh Message Consistency 2ow Moderate Consistency

IMC At A Crossroads

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'igure +. 5 Pro(osed "ontinuum of Jehicle ntegration Low 1-2 vehicles Moderate 5-7 vehicles
1Consistent with !tewart# &2234 Product Packaging Product Packaging Advertising Public Relations +irect Marketing !ales Promotion Personal !elling

High More than 7 vehicles


1Consistent with +uncan# %55%4 Product Packaging Advertising Public Relations +irect Marketing !ales Promotion Personal !elling 6ebsite !$onsorshi$s !$ecialties

IMC At A Crossroads

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'igure :. 5 Pro(osed "ontinuum of Message "onsistency Low


Mean scores 7 5 to a$$ro,( 8(5 on a seven0$oint consistenc" scale /,ecutions share a common strategic theme and are highl" consistent in terms of visual imager" 1including color schemes# logos# and other design elements4# as well as verbal and;or te,t themes 1including bod" co$"# taglines and other devices4 from one vehicle to another

Moderate
Mean scores 7 8(5 to a$$ro,( 9(5 on a seven0$oint consistenc" scale /,ecutions share a common strategic theme# but use a range of visual imager" and verbal and;or te,t themes which var" more from one vehicle to another

High
Mean scores 7 9(5 to a$$ro,( :(5 on a seven0$oint consistenc" scale /,ecutions share a common strategic theme# but visual imager" as well as verbal and;or te,t themes var" widel" from one vehicle to another