WFA highlights barriers to effective integrated marketing communications


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April 30: The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has unveiled new research detailing the specific challenges that the world's largest advertisers are having in developing integrated marketing communications (IMC).

Based on responses from 33% of the WFA membership and representing eight categories and annual marketing budgets of around $32bn, the research is based on outputs from the IMC Scorecard, a tool developed by the WFA in conjunction with Naked Communications that is designed to enable advertisers to benchmark their ability IMC readiness against their peers.

IMC has been named as a top priority by 80% of advertisers surveyed by the WFA in April 2013. This research has taken key areas critical to the development of IMC and identified marketers' key priorities as well as their current capabilities.

The gaps between the priorities and capabilities have been used to identify the key challenges posed by IMC in three crucial pillars: People, Process and Performance.

The results show that the biggest gaps remain around people and performance with the top five areas for improvement identified as follows:

1. Setting the right KPIs (Performance): Marketers need a better idea of what success looks like to help them measure the right metrics. This is a particular challenge for single brand companies and those with an annual global ad spend of less than $500m.

2. Demonstrating ROI (Performance): Marketers need to be able to show that integrated marketing delivers financial results. The world's biggest marketers – those spending more than $2bn annually – have most work to do in this area.

3. Leadership (People): To ensure company-wide adoption, a top-down approach is critical. Based on our sample, this is the top challenge for the world's largest companies. In terms of sectors, those in the food and drinks industry have (on average) the furthest to go to align leadership behind an IMC approach.

4. Resource (People): Companies must recruit and empower dedicated, specialized and experienced teams of staff to lead IMC efforts. Our scorecard shares that the biggest gap to bridge is amongst the biggest spending companies.

5. Generating big ideas (Process): Companies still struggle to develop processes that help them develop unifying marketing ideas that can work across multiple channels. Companies with a single brand are lagging here when compared to companies with more complex brand portfolios

The research found that companies with an average annual ad spend of between $500m and $2bn per year are most IMC ready, followed by the largest companies, those spending more than $2bn a year. Smaller companies are most likely to struggle.

The complexity of a company's brand portfolio appears to have little impact on IMC readiness but companies in durables and semi durables tend to perform best, followed by non-durables such as FMCG and pharma products. The next place is taken by food and drink producers.

A new infographic detailing the results of the survey and providing key tips for improvement can be viewed below:

Geoff Seeley, Global Communications Planning Director at Unilever & Chair of the WFA's IMC FORUM, which also includes representatives from other WFA member companies, said: “Within many large companies there are often still IMC sceptics. Many members of the WFA's IMC Forum therefore have to play the role of advocates. To be able to benchmark your own company against a pool of other large multinationals can be invaluable to help inform smarter conversations internally and help realise real progress."

Stephan Loerke, Managing Director of the WFA, said: “Delivering integrated marketing in today's complex media and communications landscape may not be easy, but is increasingly seen as critical. The IMC Scorecard is designed to enable the world's biggest companies to track their progress on that journey by identifying the gaps between what they want to do and what they are currently able to do. The results show that most companies still have some way to go before they have all the tools and talent in place to deliver truly integrated marketing communications.”


For all media enquiries please contact:
Alastair Ray
+44 1600 713 987
+44 7941 428 243

Notes for editors:
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) is the voice of marketers worldwide, representing 90% of global marketing communications spend – roughly US$700 billion per annum – through a unique, global network of the world's biggest markets and biggest marketers. WFA's champions responsible and effective marketing communications worldwide. More information at

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