Theoretical Concept or Management Fashion? Examining the Significance of Imc

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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. The analysis and argument presented in this article suggests that IMC is a management fashion, apparent in its lack of definition and transient influence, and that its influence upon practice should be conceived accordingly.

JOEP P. CORNELiSSEN

Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

ANDREW R. LOCK

Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

have received more attention in the marketing literature of recent years than that of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). As researchers, students, and practitioners in the field of marketing communications, it is hard not to have been confronted yet Influenced by the riches of writings on IMC. It seems particularly difficult here not to be in any way appealed to by these writings, when reflecting upon the "potentialities" associated with IMC or the simple solutions that it offers for the complexity of managing marketing communications across organizations. Not surprisingly, and perhaps as a consequence of these appealing features, it appears that IMC has found a perpetual and widespread acceptance among marketers (e.g., Schultz, 1996b) and advertising agency executives (e.g.. Kitchen and Schultz, 1999), as well as marketing academ.ics fostering an "integrated" approach to marketing communications in their articles and books (e.g.. Kitchen, 1999). FEW TOPICS

In the course of examining this topic, the authors touched upon significant evidence and arguments—such as the lack of academic rigor and the ahistorical concentration of practitioners and academics on the relatively recent idea of IMC— which allege that IMC is a management fashion. The results of the analysis and arguments presented in this article carry clear practical implicatior\s, as both advertisers and marketers will be interested in knowing whether and how IMC has any practical significance. From a conceptual standpoint, our analysis suggests that although IMC due to its lack of definition cannot clearly be inferred from practice, that is, we carmot say what IMC is and what it is not, its influence as a management fashion can be profound in the general and popular ideas that it disseminates and the rhetoric that it provides to practicing managers, Because of our specific focus on the effect of IMC theory on practice, we begin by briefly discussing the emergence and appeal of IMC theory.

Email: j.CorneIissen@tnmu.ac.uk

Nonetheless, despite this broad endorsement of the idea of IMC, there has been little work examining what each of these audiences understand IMC to be and how the concept of or term IMC is actually employed in each of these contexts—as a theoretical concept, general idea, management technique, or mere rhetoric. This article looks at the status of IMC as a theory within the academic study and discipline of marketing communications and its relationships with and influence upon its practice.

THE EMERGENCE AND APPEAL OF IMC

Although tracing the origins of a new management theory is essential in establishing its emergence, appeal, and ultimate significance in theory and practice, it appears that there have been...
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