The Concept Of Integrated Marketing Communications

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Originating in the early 1990s, the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications (hereafter referred to as IMC) remains highly contested and unstable. According to Oxford Dictionary (2015), a concept is “an abstract idea” or “a plan or intention.” IMC falls into both categories as a theoretical definition for some and a plan of action for others. Equivalently, its value is difficult to assess, as its range of definitions, confusion over implementation, and lack of empirical studies prohibit grounded judgments. Even vocal proponents of IMC, such as Don E. Schultz and Philip J. Kitchen (1997, p.8), acknowledge that there is not “any consistent or mutually agreed upon definition, description, or process to identify what is IMC and what it is not.” In fact, their study demonstrates that only some advertising agencies affirm Schultz and Kitchen’s definition of IMC, highlighting ambiguity among practitioners as well as academics. Jerry Kliatchko (2008) agrees, considering the definition and concept as a still developing topic of research. More recently, Mabel Zvobgo and T.C. Melewar (2011, p.2), state almost identically to Schultz and Kitchen (1997), “There appears to be no mutually agreed upon definition, description, or process to identify what is IMC and what is not.” Similarly, Fill (2013) discusses the lack of “universal definition.” Fill (2013) also outlines five interpretations of the IMC concept: Harmonisation, Planning, Perspective, Portfolio, and Relational. To remain
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