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Integrated Marketing Communications: Evolution, Current Status, Future Developments


Special issue call for papers from European Journal of Marketing

Guest edited by Philip J. Kitchen

Submission deadline 31st August 2015

Since 1993, when the first book on integrated marketing communications first appeared (Schultz et al 1993), medias and technologies have accelerated, expanded and further fragmented (Kitchen, 2010; Kitchen and Uzunoglu, 2015).  Measuring return on investment has become more straightforward on-line via mobile, yet more complex as many more channels (medias) have proliferated.  Consumers are more streetwise, savvy, and sophisticated. Markets have further demassified and fragmented. Real audiences are more smudged than ever before. Meanwhile, the world has passed through a major economic crisis, admittedly not without serious damage, and its aftermath will be felt and paid for, over many years.

This special issue aims to generate the latest research from some of the major academic participants in the field of marketing and brand communication and measurement concerning integrated marketing communications (IMC).  It is likely that their thoughts and views developed in and for this special issue will mold and shape the subject as we move further into the second half of the second decade of the 21st century.
 
IMC has become one the most influential marketing management frameworks during the last twenty years. It is the overarching theme of every marketing communications text, it heads the material for chapters in marketing management texts, it is the theme of many professional books and articles, trade and academic conferences, academic journal special issues and editorials (i.e. Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research,  International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Marketing Communications), the trade literature, and the ongoing adoption and usage of IMC by companies and agencies of all types.

The challenges facing today’s marketing and brand managers concern the interface between traditional sales, marketing and communications and new, interactive sales, marketing and communication.  These brand activities are focused upon customers and prospects with the need to measure or show marketplace results.  A few years ago, Don Schultz (arguably the IMC guru) spoke of transitioning from old to new ways of communicating, based upon the needs associated with the new world of the 21st century.  How does the firm or brand move from where they are now to where they need to be in this dynamic global marketplace? The old 4Ps (product, price, promotion, place) approach was essentially outbound, linear, and driven by a supply orientation. The reality is of course, that markets are not, and perhaps never have been product, production, or even marketing–driven. Now, more than ever before, markets are driven by customers, consumers, and prospects.  And, the day may come when   businesses  will  be  customer-driven.  The business that really understands its customers and works with them, with the recognition that business is demand-driven should have access to an enormous source of ongoing information that leads to competitive advantage. Hence, customer insight and integrated brand marketing strategy are keys to winning the marketing game, a game fought in every country, and in every market, all over the world.

It would seem that the road to integration of messages is now complete, as the ideal of one-voice, one-sight, one-sound has become the standardised norm. What started as a single track, in 1993, has now become a superhighway for all companies. However, the journey toward integration from a consumer perspective has scarcely begun. Thus, what Don Schultz and I (2000) regarded as a four-stage process, for the majority of companies, has – to all intents and purposes stalled at its very beginning.  Yes, we have ‘message integration’ but not necessarily ‘consumer integration’.  Most companies carry out poor, ineffectual market research, or none at all. There is an insufficiency of real understanding of markets, marketplaces, or marketspaces.  Most messages are still outbound and linear, with the added virtue of looking or sounding the same via all media. Integrated brand marketing, where one measures behavioural outcomes in response to marketing communication, is still a far-fetched dream for most companies.  As we may see in the papers to be submitted, there are techniques, processes and workable techniques for after-the-event evaluation of integrated marketing communications. Few work with immediacy.

However, a more realistic picture of IMC may be gradually emerging from the maelstrom of debate, conceptualisation, and currently available evidence. IMC seems to be situation-specific and context-dependent. While IMC is a widely accepted model and paradigm, actual use depends on what clients want and need in terms of communications.
There remain difficult and problematic issues.  IMC, in terms of its major tenets, design, contribution, and benefits, has gained academic and, as evidenced here, practitioner acceptance throughout the world. One can already make out the bones of what could be termed a ‘central theory’, which most IMC researchers and practitioners would accept.  Around the edges (i.e. of PR, of turf battles, of a stages theory of IMC etc), there will always be healthy disagreement, conjecture, and criticism. IMC has already proved to be remarkably robust; it is no passing phase or passing fad.  However, the time has come for more evidence to be presented from companies and for more sophisticated questions to be asked and answered. Only then, will the theoretical framework be strengthened.  Current barriers seem eminently capable of being understood, corrected, and overcome.  The crucible of practice, where integrated marketing communications was born and grew, is the crucible where IMC continues to undergo change. 
This special issue aims at opening the debate on the meaningfulness of, and challenges pertaining to  Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) in the 21st century. 

The Guest Editor will welcome in this issue open-minded, provocative, multi-disciplinary and eclectic perspectives that would assist in unraveling and understanding IMC.

I would welcome papers with original ideas and advanced thinking concerning the subject. All papers which enter review will be subject to a double blind peer review process and should offer innovative insights based on rigorous and thoughtful conceptualization, literature review, empirical evidence and/or case studies surrounding, but not necessarily limited to the following research areas:

• Evolution of IMC, current status and relevance
• Definitional issues of IMC - how these have changed over time
• Connections between IMC, brands and branding in an interconnected and interactive marketplace/space.
• Measurement – how and in what ways are IMC approaches accountable now and how may these  become more accountable in the future?
• Media proliferation and audience fragmentation and demassification seem to personify the nature of the 21st century. How does this challenge impact IMC and vice versa?
• Emergent markets – just as IMC was developed in the West, how and in what ways is IMC operationalized in new or emergent markets. Is there any evidence of leapfrogging previous stages of development?
• How and in what ways is IMC taught around the world?  How should it be taught and what should students be expected to learn? How does technological advancement impact a) IMC; and b) how it is taught?
• Evidence of IMC adoption and usage in companies
• Interactions between IMC and ICC (integrated corporate communications)
• IMC and social media

Submission Guidelines

The Editor would welcome informal enquiries by email to  philip.kitchen[email protected]
Submission to this issue is through Manuscript Central. Please review the author guidelines for the journal before submission at www.emeraldinsight.com/ejm.htm.  Instructions on how to submit are found there.

The deadline of papers to be submitted is 31st August 2015.  Accepted papers will be published in 2016.