IMCs for a social cause: scam or success?

Janelle Jakowenko, 98707437

How many friends on your Facebook feed are doing 22 push-ups in 22 days?

Integrated Marketing Communications (IMCs) is useful for all business, big or small, IMCs represents a coherent story across the different customer touch points (Iacobucci, 2014).  Luxton et al (2015) state that an IMCs capability has a significant direct effect on campaign effectiveness and significant indirect effect on a brand’s market-based performance and financial performance.  For larger corporations it involves carefully selecting the variety of mediums and executing a well-orchestrated messages to engage an audience. For smaller businesses it is about defining strategy, setting a budget and working within the constraints to achieving the desired goals.  The infographic below highlights the purpose of wrapping IMC around the customer.

integrated marketing strategy

With the expansion of social media since Y2K, IMCs are now affordable even to modest budgets, including small business, not-for-profits and unfortunately scam-driven profiteers.  One recent example that was launched in  mid-July  is the nomination of friends to join the plight of doing 22 push-ups each day for 22 days and post yourself on social media.  This effort is to raise awareness for veterans suicide and mental health.


But does it?  A link to the #22pushups website states that it is a global movement where funds raised go towards veteran empowerment programs.  The site displays not audit trail of funds raised, or team behind the movement.  It is not endorsed by any (credible or not) organisation or government and the only external link goes to a company at the same physical address.

Social media is relatively cheap to advertise and communicate through, it does require a strategy and human power to drive posts and respond to feedback.  Huang (2012) recognises that social media alone is a viable competitor to the mix of other modalities, such as world-of-mouth, search engine optimisation, viral and guerrilla marketing and customer relationship management.


Another memorable IMC campaign that started out on social media was the ice-bucket challenge (image) in 2014.  You needed to douce yourself in ice water and then nominate someone else to do it and raise money in the process.


The ice-bucket challenge raised more than $115mil, which was published by the ALS Association, detailing how much was raised, what it was spent on and even subsequent research findings.  The IMCs model behind these campaigns are that the communication are self perpetuating and the people involved are the vehicles of communication; social media is the new word-of-mouth.  If they’re successful, like the ice-bucket challenge they appear on popular TV shows where the challenge is carried out by celebrities who then donate generously.  An IMC schedule may be based around a certain day (ie World Aids Day, 1 Dec), time of year or an event (ie the summer Olympics).  It can be effectively measured by the number of posts, shares, likes and in this context, the money raised.

Ots and Nyilasy (2015) present the limitations of an IMC stating that the basic models revealed four aspects of IMC implementation dysfunction: miscommunication, compartmentalisation, loss of trust, and decontextualisation.  This loss of trust may be in relation to a specific brand, or in the case of raising social awareness – to an entire industry.  Spending creative resources on promoting social issues is a powerful weapon, it helps support brands and raise awareness for the cause. The questions are, is it a real cause and the businesses doing it for the right reasons?



Huang, L 2012, Social Media in an Alternative Marketing Communication Model, Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness, vol. 6, no.1, pp. 117-134.

Iacobucci, D 2014, MM, Mason, Ohio South-Western, Student edition.

Luxton, S, Reid, M, Mavondo, F, 2015, Integrated Marketing Communication Capability and Brand Performance, Journal of Advertising, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 37-46. 10p. DOI: 10.1080/00913367.2014.934938.

Ots, M, Nyilasy, G 2015, Integrated Marketing Techniques: Why do they fail? Journal of Advertising Research, vol. 55, no. 2, p132-145. 14p. DOI: 10.2501/JAR-55-2-132-145.



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