Integrated Marketing and The Endless Echoes of Mad Men

In case you hadn’t noticed, ‘integrated marketing’ has come full circle. Back in the day, when Mad Men roamed Madison Avenue and TV advertising was the new kid on the block, everyone wanted a slice of the marketing action.

In late-1950s Britain, television sets in everyone’s living room marked the end of post-war austerity and, with it, the beginnings of an affluent consumerist society that continued throughout the 1960s and on into the present day. TV advertising was a powerful tool of mass communication that eclipsed print media, direct marketing and PR almost overnight, particularly among those with bigger budgets.

It’s often said that history repeats itself. That would certainly seem to be the case with integrated marketing. To get a handle on the historical perspective of it all, you need to compare the Mad Men era and the arrival of TV advertising with the emergence in our own era of Internet marketing and Google.

Both of these phenomena transformed marketing as it was known hitherto – and both ended with an aftermath of integrated marketing that sought to make sense of a new and dominant marketing force. The underlying driver on both occasions was the realisation that we shouldn’t risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.

 

In The 1960s…

TV advertising in the 50s and 60s was a potent and entertaining medium with the power to engage and persuade like nothing that had gone before. Or was it? Apart from being incredibly expensive, TV advertising in 1960s Britain had a limited platform of only one commercial TV station.

Even if your company could afford it, mass advertising by definition couldn’t always reach the niche audiences that many products and services needed. As the years went by and more commercial TV and radio stations emerged, ‘broadcast’ opportunities increased.

In the meantime, press advertising responded by becoming more sophisticated. More magazines and supplements flooded the market, using great photography and other techniques that owed more than a little to televisual influences. As a consequence, the media relations side of PR flourished, and ‘corporate communications’ became a skill-set in its own right.

The perceived value and influence of TV advertising had set a whole marketing machine in motion that fed off greater post-war affluence and an aspirational, consumer society. That magical word ‘synergy’ crept into everyday business parlance and, before long, it had been transmuted within the realms of ‘integrated marketing’.

The growing awareness that markets are organic (with their own internal and measurable dynamic) led to integrated marketing becoming the watchword for marketing success. The ‘marketing mix’ was now the real world writ large – and not some nebulous business school theory.

 

Enter… The Internet

It took another marketing earthquake in the shape of the world-wide web to rock the world of latter-day Mad Men to their digital core. Here was the harbinger of yet another era of integrated marketing – with so-called ‘digital convergence’ bolted-on for good measure!

Like so many other things in the present day, this development happened at break-neck speed. At the turn of the Millennium, Google was not the household name it is today. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) was unheard of, whilst the transformational power of social media wasn’t even a twinkle in the eyes of today’s supernova entrepreneurs.

And yet, here we have it again: marketing history repeating itself in order to make sense of a changing and challenging world. In the wake of ‘information overload’, we now have Google leading everyone back to the original, seminal concept that the ‘customer is king’.

In tandem with this – and somewhat serendipitous as it turns out – Google’s long-trumpeted axiom that ‘content is king’ has worked out rather well for a hyper-sophisticated company which devotes millions of man-hours to interpreting search terms and other key elements that make up its secretive ‘algorithms’.

Integrated marketing is now a mix of online and offline methodologies where ‘content marketing’ links to the timeless offline channels of yesteryear whilst sucking-in social media and the real-world certainties of PR (in all its reinvigorated glory!).

The ebb and flow of both business and societal needs has once again reverted to the simplification of a world that was becoming far too complex for its own good! ‘Integrated marketing’ is a deft piece of shorthand for a timeless desire to combine and optimise every available resource.

 

About the Author
Mike Beeson is a highly experienced UK journalist, copywriter and PR consultant. Mike’s company, Buzzwords Limited, was established over 20 years ago and is located near the city of Manchester.

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