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Critically discuss for one specific brand of your choice, the concept of Integrated Marketing Communication.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Critically discuss for one specific brand of your choice, the concept of Integrated Marketing Communication. Support your answer by referring to appropriate theory and concepts of Integrated Marketing Communications and discuss theory in close relation to your chosen brand. I have chosen Marks & Spencer and more specifically their 'Per Una' clothing range around which to base my study. I will begin by providing an overview of Marks and Spencer and the recent problems they have encountered and how 'Per Una' has contributed to the company's much improved performance over the past two years. I will then discuss the theory of marketing communications and in particular what has become known as 'integrated marketing communications' (IMC) whilst closely relating it to Marks and Spencer and its 'Per Una' range. In January 1999, Marks and Spencer, one of the most profitable companies in the UK, shocked the city by announcing that profits for the financial year would be almost half that of 1998. Before this, M&S had a reputation as a safe 'blue chip' investment, their pre-tax profits having increased every year between 1992 and 1998, probably having had the most marketable brand on the high street, which is strange for a company that was said several years ago to not even use the word 'marketing'. For customers, Marks and Spencer's reputation was built on quality, dependability and good value, and for its employees, M&S offered high quality training, staff development, welfare, and relatively good job security. Various reasons were put forward for the decline in profits - from holding excessive stock due to expansion, to the inability to utilise fully the increased available floor space as a result of the difficulties selling its products.

Middle

"These are the development and maintenance of corporate goodwill and the continuity necessary for good product support." (Fill, 2002, P.644) The first task of PR is to provide a series of cues by which the stakeholders can recognise, understand and position the organisation in such a way that it builds a strong reputation. Through public relations and word-of-mouth, M&S has built a extremely strong brand and a reputation for quality clothes for all at accessible prices and although this reputation may have been tarnished by the recent downturn in fortune, new ranges such as 'Per Una' have helped re-build its old reputation whilst adding a new fashionable element to it as well. "The second role of public relations is to support the marketing of the organisation's products and services, and its task is to integrate with other elements of the promotional mix." (Fill, 2002, P.644) Apart from during the downturn in1999, M&S have always had good press which supported their corporate and marketing strategies and helped them become one of the most profitable companies in Europe. The launch of the 'Per Una' range in 2001 is an example of great awareness being built in the target customers resulting from public relations. PR was used to inform editors and news broadcasters that the new product was about to be launched. The fact that the 'Per Una' range is designed by veteran designer George Davis, who already has a great reputation because of his work with 'Next' and 'Asda', gave M&S and the new range excellent publicity which has certainly helped 'Per Una' become as successful as it has been.

Conclusion

At a strategic level for example, IMC has at its roots the overall business strategy of the organisation. Using Porter's (1980) generic strategies, because M&S pursue a high quality and dependability, it makes sense to complement the strategy by using messages that stress these aspects, as apposed to any low-cost strategy, which for 'Per Una,' they have. "The next major issue concerns the recognition that IMC cannot be sustained unless it is supported by all customer facing employees" (Fill, 2002, P.464). It is also important to have good communications with your various outsourced providers, such as production and material suppliers id the implementation of IMC is to be successful. During the course of this essay, we have seen that combining the tools from the promotional mix, enables the communications strengths of one tool to reinforce those of another, this way target audiences are much more likely to benefit, as is the organisation, in the form of improved effectiveness and delivery of messages. This is evident in Marks and Spencer's 'Per Una' range, where the message of a quality, fashionable range is delivered well across the different elements of 'Per Una's' promotional and marketing mix. We have seen how ranges like 'Per Una' have encouraged a move towards IMC at M&S, and how they have helped M&S put right a number of problems that were previously evident within the organisation, many of which were communication orientated. But by no means has M&S achieved totally integrated marketing communications, they are still a number barriers to integration at M&S, such as their relationship with some of their agencies, but if this can be improved, there seems no reason why M&S cannot achieve total IMC and further enhance their market position. Matthew Flint Candidate number - 013220707 MN - 2007 Marketing Communications Essay Dr.

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