The Marketing Campaign
Determining which marketing communication methods and tools to use and how best to combine them is a challenge for any marketer planning a promotional strategy. To aid the planning process, marketing managers often use a campaign approach. A campaign is a planned, coordinated series of marketing communication efforts built around a single theme or idea and designed to reach a particular goal. For years, the term “campaign” has been used in connection with advertising, and this term applies equally well to the entire IMC program.
Organizations may conduct many types of IMC campaigns, and several may be run concurrently. Geographically, a firm may have a local, regional, or national campaign, depending upon the available funds, objectives, and market scope. One campaign may be aimed at consumers and another at wholesalers and retailers. Different marketing campaigns might target different segments simultaneously, delivering messages and using communication tools tailored to each segment. Marketers use a marketing plan (sometimes called an IMC plan) to track and execute a set of campaigns over a given period of time.
A campaign revolves around a theme, a central idea, focal point, or purpose. This theme permeates all IMC efforts and works to unify the campaign. The theme may refer to the campaign’s goals—for example, KCRW “Capital Campaign” launched by the popular Los Angeles-based public radio station KCRW to raise $48 million to build a new state-of-the-art media facility for its operations. The theme may also refer to the shift in customer attitudes or behavior that a campaign focuses on—such as new-member campaigns launched by numerous member organizations, from professional associations to school parent-teacher organizations. A theme might take the form of a slogan, such as Coca-Cola’s “Taste the Feeling” campaign or DeBeers’ “A diamond is forever.”
Clear Channel is a marketing company that specializes in outdoor advertising. For their latest advertising campaign in Switzerland, they created a slogan-based theme, “Where Brands Meet People,” and asked their clients to participate in dramatizing it. Dozens of Swiss companies gave their logo to be used as individual “tiles” in three colorful mosaic portraits. These mosaics appeared on the web and on the streets of Switzerland. Click here to see a high-resolution image of one mosaic and check out all the brands that make up the mosaics. Some of the billboards appeared in animated form, as below:
(Note that the following video has no narration. Access audio description using the widget below the video.)
Marketing campaigns may also adopt themes that refer to a stage in the product life cycle, such as McDonald’s 2015 “All-Day Breakfast” rollout campaign. Some organizations use the same theme for several campaigns; others develop a different theme for each new campaign.
In a successfully operated campaign, all activities will be well coordinated to build on one another and increase the overall impact. For example, a single campaign might include:
- Advertising: A series of related, well-timed, carefully placed television ads coupled with print advertising in selected magazines and newspapers
- Direct marketing: Direct-to-consumer mail pieces sent to target segments in selected geographic areas, reinforcing the messages from the ads
- Personal selling: Preparation for customer sales representatives about the campaign to equip them to explain and demonstrate the product benefits stressed in advertising
- Sales promotions: In-store display materials reflecting the same messages and design as the ads, emphasizing point-of-sale impact
- Digital marketing: Promotional information on the organization’s Web site that reflects the same messages, design, and offers reflected in the ads; ads themselves may be posted on the Website, YouTube, Facebook, and shared in other social media
- Public relations: A press release announcing something newsworthy in connection to the campaign focus, objectives, and target segment(s)
For each IMC campaign, new display materials must be prepared, all reflecting common objectives, messages, design, and other elements to maximize the campaign’s impact.
People responsible for the physical delivery of the products or services must ensure that the distribution points are well stocked and equipped to deliver in all outlets prior to the start of the campaign. People managing public and media relations should be constantly kept aware of marketing planning, allowing them to identify and coordinate opportunities for earned media attention. Because public relations deals with media, conference/event organizers, and other stakeholders outside the organization, it is extremely important to give enough lead time for the public relations effort to take advantage of optimal timing in support of the overall campaign.