International Conference on
Revisiting Globalization &
Communication in the 2000s
Maha Chulalongkorn Bldg.,
August 5-6, 2004
The Adjustment of Advertising
Agencies in Thailand to Implement Integrated
A Content Analysis
Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University
Phrayatai Road, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330, THAILAND
No editing of abstracts/papers is done. They are printed and published as submitted.
Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is an important concept and provides
many benefits to firms implementing it. IMC can assist communication to be more effective
especially when the innovative advertising campaign requires comprehensive mixes of
communication strategies and presents them in the single positioning concept (one voice and
one personality). Moreover, IMC helps reducing the miscommunication problems among
different advertising agencies and helps marketers to be on guard against excessive use of
communication budget. Advertising agencies in the USA were to first group to agree with
the concept of IMC. They viewed that IMC could help increasing the effectiveness of
marketing communication plans, creating consistent effects and eliminating any
misunderstandings that might arise from the use of different firms providing the services of
marketing communication. In addition, IMC could help the clients of advertising agencies to
have a better control over communication plans (Kitchen & Schultz, 1999).
Later, IMC concept has been widely accepted by advertising agencies in other
countries including those in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and India (Kitchen &
Schultz, 1999) and Thailand (Anantachart, 2001). For the case of Thailand, the early stage of
advertising agencies was in the period during 1943-1974 (Chirapravati, 1996) and there had
been gradual development responding to the changing economic and social conditions of that
particular period. In 1997, Thailand faced with the Asian crisis and the economic recession
had severely negative impacts on all sectors including the advertising industries. In 1998,
total expenses in advertising media decreased by 24% to baht 31.68 billion compared to baht
41.59 billion in 1997 (ACNeilsen, 2001). Consumers behavior also changed and the process
of consumer thought in this period was different from that in the past (Chaipani, 2002).
People are bored with the traditional marketing communication tools, so marketer must
search for new tools or strategies to enhance the marketing activities (Siripullop, 2001).
Furthermore, information technology in Thailand had been developed in a fast pace (Kitikup,
1997b). With the free trade policy, the competition had also been increased substantially
from both local and foreign companies (Thanasarnsin, 2002). Thus, advertising agencies had
to look for new marketing strategies in order to help clients with more effective marketing
communication campaigns. IMC is one of the new marketing strategies that had been well
accepted and implemented in various organizations. Advertising agencies in Thailand were
forced to adapt to the changing economic environment and other changing factors by
accepting IMC and reorganizing their own firms. Firms that used to provide only single type
of marketing communication service became IMC providers. Therefore, it is interesting to see
how the advertising agencies made adjustment to implement IMC.
This study would provide important foundation for the study of IMC in Thailand by
both academics and practitioners in advertising and marketing fields. The results can then be
applied to more effective implementation of IMC in the future. The objective of this research
is to study how the advertising agencies in Thailand have adapted themselves to implement
IMC. To achieve this goal, the followings are research questions:
How have the advertising agencies in Thailand adapted themselves to facilitate the
implementation of IMC?
What are the communication tools used for IMC in Thailand?
WHAT IS IMC?
An early definition of IMC adopted by the American Association of Advertising
Agencies (4As) and developed by Schultz was inevitably focused—correctly for its time
(Kitchen, Brignell, Li, & Jones, 2004)—as a concept of marketing communications planning
activity that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic
roles of a variety of communication disciplines (for example, general advertising, direct
response, sales promotion, and public relations) and combines them to provide clarity,
consistency, and maximum communications impact (Schultz, 1993). This definition was used
as a foundation for the empirical analysis. Moreover, the same definition was used in other
IMC studies around the world (Eagle & Kitchen, 2000; Kallmeyer & Abratt, 2001). In the
view of 4As, it indicated that IMC requires maintaining a consistent and clear image as well
as controlling marketing position, message and theme by guiding them into the same
direction via different marketing communication tools. Moreover, this definition focused on
strategic participation of different forms of promotion-mix, e.g. advertising, sales promotions,
and public relations, and the integration into one in order to send message to the targeted
customers (Schultz, 1991). Majority of advertising practitioners in the U.K. agreed with this
definition strongly (Kitchen & Schultz, 1998). There are some agreements but no real
conviction among advertising practitioners in U.S. From the comments, it appears that, while
conceptually most advertising practitioners in U.S. agreed with this definition, they seemed to
be looking for an additional input about the measurability and execution: needing ways to
operationalize the concept. Some comments implied that the strength of IMC lay in focusing
on specific target markets and in its execution, not just planning (Schultz & Kitchen, 1997).
Here are some examples of the definitions of IMC from academics, who have done
research on IMC. Duncan (2002) defined IMC as the process for managing the customer
relationships that drive brand value. In addition, it is a cross-functional process for creating
and nourishing profitable relationships with customers and other stakeholders by strategically
controlling or influencing all messages sent to these groups and encouraging data-driven,
purposeful dialogue with them. Gould (2004) suggested that IMC should be defined in terms
of two complementary approaches: (1) as a set of practices and discourses that is employed
by marketing communications practitioners, studied by academics researchers, and taught by
many of the latter to their students, and (2) as a subject for theoretical analysis that may
assess among other things conceptual issues, how IMC functions, and issues of effectiveness.
However, other academics tried to define IMC in a much clearer view. For example,
Nowak and Phelps (1994) divided the definitions of IMC into 3 aspects. The first aspect
involved the creation of one voice, e.g. one theme or one total picture. The second aspect is
the integration of both product image and relevant aspects of consumer behavior in
promotion management as opposed to a focus on only one or the other of these two. The last
aspect is the coordinated management and promotion-mix disciplines, which corresponds to
4As’ definition (Gould, Lerman, & Grein, 1999). These definitions reflect a wide range of
IMC issues and provide a framework within which to consider many of them. However, they
fail to fully reflect the important role of the agency-client relationship in generating effective
IMC (Gould, Grein, & Lerman, 1999).
The division of IMC definition into three aspects by Nowak and Phelps (1994) can be
compared with that of Cathey and Schumann (1996), which analyzed and divided various
definitions of IMC into three main categories: (1) definitions stressing on the audiences, (2)
definitions concentrating on the integration of messages and media, and (3) definitions
aiming on the evaluation of outcomes. The definitions of both works seem to focus on the
one- voice communication or one-direction communication. However, Nowak and Phelps
(1994) separated the above aspect from the integration aspect. Cathey and Schumann (1996),
on the other hand, combined the one-voice communication and integration into one. They
also focused on the receiver of message and the results from IMC, while Nowak and Phelps
(1994) did not touch on these aspects.
In general, Reid (2003) drew some consistent themes from prominent IMC definitions,
including (1) a sound knowledge of the organization’s stakeholders, acquired through two-
way interaction with these parties, (2) the selection of communication tools which promote
the achievement of communications objectives; are reasonable in regard to the organization’s
resources, and are favorable to the intended recipient, (3) the strategic coordination of various
communication tools in a manner consistent with the organization’s brand positioning, and
which maximizes their synergistic effect so as to build strong brands and stakeholder
relationships, (4) the use of appropriate, timely and data-driven evaluation and planning to
determine the effectiveness of this process, (5) strong interfunctional and interorganizational
relationships with those responsible for implementing marketing communications campaigns,
(6) impact on customer relationships, brand equity and sales.
From the varieties of IMC definitions as described above, it could be concluded that
controversy persists about the definition of IMC (Swain, 2004) and there is no single
definition of IMC that is agreed upon among academics and practitioners in IMC (Duncan &
Everett, 1993; Kitchen, 1999).This apparent ambiguity has allowed for various interpretations
and the loose use of the term IMC and has allowed researchers to choose whichever
conceptualization best fits their research agendas at any given time (Cornelissen & Lock,
2000). Thus, there is widely disagreement on the issues about who and how one applies the
IMC. This is one of the reasons that slowed down the development process of both research
and theories of IMC by academics and practitioners (Schultz & Kitchen, 1997).
The “integrated” in IMC today has a deeper and a boarder meaning than it did in the
early 1990s. Initially, “integrated” referred primarily to coordinated marketing efforts; then
the notion of harmonious activities took center stage with the tighter focus on “one voice”
and coherent planning. Today there is an added dimension to the meaning of integrated in the
way the IMC concept is discussed and applied, completeness or “holistic” (Cook, 2004). By
the way, the researcher tried to synthesize from the collection of definitions of IMC as
defined by several academics from the U.S.A. The researcher then summarized all aspects of
IMC definitions according to the concept of Cathey and Schumann (1996) as follows (1)
Building positive relationships with customers and other stakeholders (e.g., Banayan, 2000;
Bertin, 2000; Reid, 2003), (2) Collecting information about customers’ wants and needs (e.g.,
Cooke, 2000; Gonzalez, 2000; Shimp, 2000), (3) The concept of data driven of target
customers (e.g., Cooper, 2000; Duncan, 2002), (4) Coordinating all aspects of marketing
communications (e.g., G. Belch, & M. Belch, 2004; Bluth, 2000), (5) One voice (e.g., Cook,
2004; 4As, as cited in Schultz, 1993), and (6) Providing maximum impact on both the
popularity and profitability of brands (e.g., Schultz, 1993; Whalen, 2000). Therefore, the
researcher would like to define IMC as “The implementation of varieties of marketing
communication tools to convey brand in one voice. The process starts with the study of raw
database and the needs of target customers in order to achieve the maximum benefits in terms
of popularity and profitability of the brand.”
THE TRADITIONAL ROLES OF ADVERTISING AGENCIES
The basic functions of an advertising agency were most frequently described in terms
of strategic advertising consultancy within marketing perspective (Helgeson, 1994).
Advertising agencies which have been in existence for about a century, offer four basic
functions: creative, account management, research, and media. Within the agency, creative
works as the heart of the agency, developing the art-work and copy messages to sell the
products. The key function of account management is to handle client relations. The agency
account management group often offers marketing analysis and advice. Ensuring that the
message is properly communicated to the target is the job of the research department. Here,
the goal is to learn as much as possible about the prospective consumers for a brand. Where
to place the communications to the consumers is the task assigned to the media department,
which also purchases space and time from the media and conducts research on how people
use media (Salz, 1983; Vanden Bergh & Katz, 1999).
By the early twentieth century, agencies that offered advertisers all of these
elements—message creation, media placement, research, marketing, and adminitrative
services (O’Guinn, Allen, & Semenik, 2000; Vanden Bergh & Katz, 1999)—came to be
known as full-service agencies. Full-service agencies organize their accounts by putting
together creative, media, research, and account management personnel to work on a specific
brand. This is consistent with the structure of advertising agencies as described by Capon
and Scammon (1979), which stated that advertising agencies comprised of four basic
departments as above. Major client contact is performed by a group of account executives,
who report to account supervisors. The account supervisors may themselves act as the major
contact points for very important clients. Creative matter within the agency are handled in
three separate units; print media matters are the responsibility of a senior art director, who is
assisted by a staff of art directors, and a copy director who is assisted by a staff of
copywriters, while TV and radio advertisements are the responsibility of the broadcast
director to whom personnel in various support functions (e.g., casting) report. The research
director heads a research department, which is available for consultation and performs
research projects for creative departments as well as the account executives and supervisors.
Finally, media scheduling and buying are performed by the media director, who is assisted by
staffs of media buyers.
Although the above four departments are considered the basic departments for
advertising agencies in general, other departments can be included if necessary. For example,
Na, Marshall and Son (1999) studied the structure of advertising agencies in South Korea and
found that the representative departments for providing service are account service, creative
service, media service, marketing research and promotion service—an addition to the first
four basic departments. Bursk and Sethi (1976), on the other hand, stated that the major
advertising functions covered—manager, creative director, media planning and buying, art,
copy writing, and production. However, the smaller in-house agency companies purchase
creative and media services from outside sources. This is consistent with Kallmeyer and
Abratt (2001), which stated that the traditional advertising agencies focused only on
advertising and creative services. This means that the main roles of advertising agencies
were the creative and media services not the integrated marketing communications. Before
the implementation of IMC, some advertising agencies in the past viewed the clients as
“accounts” rather than as “partners”. Clients planned the marketing strategies and let the
advertising agencies implement the plans. Most advertising agencies also tended to advise
clients to utilize only the tools that the agencies are familiarized with (Gronstedt, 1996). This
resulted in the role of advertising agencies in the past focusing on the advertising services
only—especially in account service, creative service, media service, and marketing research –
rather than offering other tools in the integrated marketing communications.
This quantitative research used content analysis to study the contents of articles and
news related to integrated marketing communications as appeared in newspapers and
The first data set composed of all IMC related news and articles published in business
newspapers, which had the three highest readership in Thailand in 2003 according to the
Optimum Media Direction (OMD), a well-known advertising media agency. The researcher
covered the three business newspapers published from January 1999 until December 2003.
This would result in the initial database of 522 newspapers from Thansettakij Newspaper,
262 newspapers from Poojadkarn Weekly Newspaper and 522 newspapers from Prachachart
Turakij Newspaper for the total of 1,306 newspapers.
Moreover, the second data set composed of all IMC related and articles published in
marketing magazines, which had the three highest readership in Thailand in 2003 according
to OMD. The researcher covered the three marketing magazines published from 1993 until
2003. This would result in the total database of 226 magazines, which consist of the
followings: (1) BrandAge magazine started from the first issue in May 2000 until December
2003 (2) MBA magazine started from the first issue in April 1999 until December 2003 (3)
Marketeer magazine started from the first issue in March 2000 until December 2003 (4)
Khookhang magazine starting from January 1993 until the last issue in April 1999 were also
included since the Brandage and Marketeer magazines were first published in 2000 and MBA
magazine was first published in 1999. Khookhang magazine had the highest circulation in
1994 (Chirapravati, 1996) were included to increase the data set.
There were two coders in this study. They both received the coding form and the
coding manual, which are the tools for the coding procedure. There was no study on the
adjustment of advertising agencies to implement IMC to be followed as a concept guideline
during the design process of for this research questionnaire. The researcher, therefore,
designed the questionnaire by dividing the adjustment of advertising agencies in Thailand to
implement IMC into 5 broad categories, i.e. establishing new departments or team to provide
extended services, reorganizing firm structures, establishing new firms, forming business
alliances, and taking over other firms, based on preliminary study and added a choice as other
(please specify) in case that the coders disagreed with other available choices determined by
the researcher. The researcher made sure that both coders understand all the issues under
analysis and take them into consideration during the coding process. Each coder then
analyzed news and articles separately without consulting each other. After that, the researcher
tested the intercoder reliability by using formula from Hosti (1969, cited in Wimmer &
Dominick, 1994) and calculated the intercoder reliability coefficient that each coder chose the
same choice for each issue under analysis. The intercoder reliability coefficient was at 0.87,
implying that the intercoder reliability was quite high. Then, any disagreements in coding
were resolved by the discussion among the two coders. Moreover, the information on
advertising agencies implementing IMC in Thailand was gathered together with the various
communication tools offered by the agencies. This would bring the better understanding of
the changes in the working styles and structures of the advertising agencies.
From the study of all 1,532 newspapers and magazines, the researcher found that
there were 190 articles about IMC covering contents about advertising agencies
implementing IMC, the adjustment of advertising agencies to implement IMC and the
application of IMC tools as the followings:
Advertising Agencies Implementing IMC in Thailand
Most advertising agencies in Thailand, both international advertising agencies from
the U.S and Japan as well as local advertising agencies, had put their focus on the expanding
of the IMC service to respond to the growing needs of clients. The results from the research
showed that there were 19 advertising agencies in Thailand implementing IMC, 10 of which
were international advertising agencies and the other 9 were local advertising agencies (see
Table 1). The details are as follows:
(1) International advertising agencies in Thailand that implementing IMC
(1.1) Leo Burnett implemented IMC in 1993 and called it as “Total Brand
Supporting” (Wongmontha, 1997). Leo Burnett was obviously one of the pioneers
implementing IMC by restructuring their organization in 1993. All of their services including
advertising, public relations, sales promotion and direct marketing (“Agency khuern...,”
1997). Moreover, Leo Burnett renamed its IMC service as “Integrated Brand
Communication” in 2003 (Rojmetha, 2003). IMC of Leo Burnett originated from its Chicago
Headquarter by developing Integrated Planning and Communication (IPAC) to be used by its
branches and affiliates worldwide. The objective was to help the communication plans of
clients with the most effectiveness method regardless of there the clients are located. This
service focused on the cooperation among departments including event marketing and public
Table 1: Advertising Agencies Implementing IMC in Thailand
Advertising Agencies Year
Leo Burnett 1993
Lowe Limited 1995
Thai Image 1996
Siam Vision 1996
Better Impact Communication (BIC) Before 1997
Integrated Group 1997
Grey Worldwide: Thailand 1998
Ogilvy & Mather 1998
J.Walter Thompson 1999
Euro RSCG 1999
Spa Advertising 1999
CVT & Bercia 2000
Siamese D’Arcy 2000
TBWA (Thailand) 2001
Creative Juice/G1 2001
Dentsu (Thailand) 2001
Total n =20
In addition to the advertising via different media of Leo Burnett worldwide, the
services in direct marketing and sales promotion departments was also improved
(1.2) DY&R started implementing IMC during 1994-1995 and called it “Effective
Brand Communication” (Wongmontha, 1997). They set up a department called “Total
Communication” responsible for the coordination of all departments such as graphic design,
public relations, sales promotion, event marketing, database, accounting, finance and “Total
Media”. They also utilized the information and data from other research firms in the group,
such as Wonderman (Thailand) and Burson Marstellar. They used three-dimensional
situation analysis to plan and implement IMC to be consistent with the existing market
situations to deliver the best possible plan to both domestic and foreign clients (“Agency
(1.3) Lowe Limited implemented IMC in 1995 when Mr. Wichai Supasomboon was
the Executive Chairman. They had continued to follow the policy of implementing IMC ever
since despite the major change in the top management level (“Agency khuern...,” 1997).
(1.4) Grey Worldwide: Thailand implemented IMC in 1998 during the time of
economic recession. Grey started a new company to provide IMC service since clients needed
more full service from their agencies (Lumliengpol, 2000). This changed their role from
advertising agency to become IMC agency (Rosenkranz, 2002).
(1.5) Ogilvy & Mather implemented IMC in 1998 and then re-launched the whole
Ogilvy Group by organizing the “360 Degree Brand Building” team again in 2000
(1.6) J. Walter Thompson implemented IMC in 1999 by dividing departments to be
consistent with the IMC strategy and to service their clients (Capra, 1999a, 1999b, 1999c).
(1.7) Euro RSCG implemented IMC in 1999 and called it “Integrated Marketing
Service” (Waiyakornwilard, 2003). This was to provide value added to clients in addition to
the advertising creative (Howell, 2001).
(1.8) CVT & Bercia implemented IMC in 2000 and also provided marketing
consulting at the same time (Nithiwannakul, 2000). Its policy was to expand the
effectiveness of IMC by designing the concept and controlling the work. It integrated all the
works into one, which is easier to control and to evaluate (Watcharathanont, 2001).
(1.9) TBWA (Thailand) implemented in 2001 to provide other services in addition to
advertising (“TBWA...,” 2001).
(1.10) Dentsu (Thailand) implemented IMC in 2001. Their policy was to build
company image as a first class” company and to provide full service in professional way
(2) Local advertising agencies in Thailand that implementing IMC
(2.1) Thai Image implemented IMC in 1996 with the focus as a marketing agency.
They applied all marketing strategies to fully service their clients in all aspects (Wongmontha,
(2.2) Siam Vision implemented IMC in 1996 by positioning themselves not as
advertising agency or PR agency but as IMC agency. They produced each work in the form
of circular connecting each work together without focusing on any particular aspect in order
to send messages to the target group with the highest efficiency and the lowest budget since
the cost of media kept on rising (Wongmontha, 1996).
(2.3) Better Impact Communication (BIC) implemented IMC several years
before1997. Belonged to Mr. Seri Wongmontha, they were a medium-sized advertising
agency providing only IMC service and tried to focus on its professional service on IMC
(“Agency khuern...,” 1997).
(2.4) Integrated Group implemented IMC in 1997. As a medium-sized advertising
agency, they positioned themselves as IMC provider with the focus on teamwork
(2.5) Netscop implemented IMC in 1997. As a small-sized advertising agency, they
differentiated themselves by offering unique and outstanding strategies (Kitikup, 1997a).
(2.6) Spa Advertising reorganized the management structure to implement IMC in
1999 (Chumpunpong, 1999).
(2.7) Siamese D’Arcy implemented IMC in 2000 in order to expand their business
(2.8) Creative Juice/G1 implemented IMC in 2001 by setting up a new firm, Emerald
Biz to provide IMC service. Their rationale was that due to the existing marketing condition,
advertising alone could not help the sales of clients but the inclusion of marketing service
could help on that. This was also consistent with the trend of that particular period
(2.9) Flagship implemented IMC in 2003 since the advertising business was required
to provide more IMC service to clients. In the past, they tried to provide IMC service but they
failed to achieve it and admitted that they were outstanding in creative only. This became
their weakness when they had to pitch their work against other international advertising
agency (Waiyakornwilard, 2003).
The Adjustment of Advertising Agencies in Thailand to Implement IMC
Due to the changing market situation, it was necessary for the advertising agencies in
Thailand to make adjustment from the offering of only advertising service in the past to the
new IMC service. There were 6 major methods that advertising agencies in Thailand adapted
themselves to implement IMC as follows: establishing new departments or team to provide
extended services, reorganizing firm structures, establishing new firms, forming business
alliances, taking over other firms, and merging with other firms (see Table 2).
For establishing new departments or team to provide extended services, the research
found that there were 10 advertising agencies or 35.7% of total that followed this strategy.
DY&R, implemented IMC by setting up a department called “Total Communication”
responsible for the coordination of all departments such as graphic design, public relations,
sales promotion, event marketing, database, accounting, finance and “Total Media”. The
“Total Media” department was responsible for the planning and the selection of in-house
services in order to facilitate the planned IMC and coordinate with strategic planning
department to achieve the IMC target (“Agency khuern...,” 1997). Ogilvy & Mather set up
the “360 Degree Brand Building” team in 1998 (Thanapaisarnkij, 1999) and the Interactive
Group in 1999 in order to integrate the media (Pongtharanont, 1999). J. Walter Thompson
formed several departments, i.e. Thompson Connect providing direct marketing service,
Thompson Interactive providing new types media and Digital Media, e.g. CD-Rom,
multimedia and web sites, etc., Thompson Pro Mor providing concept design in sales
promotion, Thompson Design, and Thompson Impact. These five departments were set up in
1999 and managed independently to provide full services responding to the needs of clients
(Capra, 1999a, 1999b, 1999c). In 2001, it formed 2 new departments, i.e. Thompson
Expresso providing web-site design and Thompson Public Relations providing PR service
(Capra, 2001). Moroever, in 2000, J. Walter Thompson brought senior manager responsible
for IMC in Australia to be in charge of IMC in Thailand (Capra, 2000). McCann-Erickson
provided new service—Interactive in 2000 (“Agency tuen...,” 2000). Grey Worldwide:
Thailand set up Strategic Planning team to strategically plan brand building via IMC in 2000.
Better Impact Communication (BIC) created a new position called “IMC Strategic Director”
in 2000 (Techakana, 2000).
Table 2: The Adjustment of Advertising Agencies in Thailand to Implement IMC
Type of Adjustment by Advertising Agencies to Implement IMC Year
Establishing new departments or team to provide extended services.
DY&R established Total Communication department 1994
Ogilvy&Mather established “360 degree Brand Building” team 1998
Ogilvy&Mather established interactive group 1999
J. Walter established new departments: Thompson Connect, Thompson
Interactive, Thompson Promor, Thompson Design, and Thompson Impact 1999
J. Walter Thompson brought senior manager responsible for IMC in Australia
to be in charge of IMC in Thailand 2000
J. Walter established new departments: Thompson Expresso and Thompson
Public Relations 2001
McCann provided Interactive service 2000 (35.7)
Grey Worldwide: Thailand established Strategic Planning team 2000
BIC appointed IMC Strategic Director responsible for IMC 2000
Lowe established new departments: Consumer Activation and Corporate
TBWA (Thailand) established new departments: Taquilar and Interactive 2001
CVT&Bercia appointed 2 senior managers responsible for IMC 2001
Leo Burnett established new departments: Leo Activition Promotion, Leo
Activition PR, and iLeo 2003
Reorganizing firm structures.
Leo Burnett reorganized its organization 1993
DY&R reorganized its organization 1994 5
Spa Advertising changed from vertical-styled to horizontal-styled management 1999 (17.9)
TBWA (Thailand) invested more in technology and personnel 2001
Lowe Limited reduced work forces 2002
Establishing new firms.
BIC established BIP and BIB 1997
Grey Worldwide: Thailand established new firms: Grey Direct Interactive,
MediaCom and Witch Bank Art 1998
Creative Juice/G1 established Emerald Biz 2001 (14.3)
Euro RSCG established Euro RSCG Public Relations and a new firm providing
marketing communications service 2001
Forming business alliances.
Netscop worked with outside supporting team 1997
CVT&Bercia allied with small advertising agencies 2000 4
Creative Juice/G1 allied with media house and production house 2001 (14.3)
DY&R allied with Nine East 2001
Taking over other firms.
Euro RSCG took over Direct Impact and Strike Force 1999
Saatchi&Saatchi took over other agencies specialized in each field 2003 4
Ogilvy&Mather took over other agencies specialized in each field 2003 (14.3)
DY&R took over other agencies specialized in each field 2003
Merging with other firms. 1
Euro RSCG announced the merger with Flagship 2003 (3.6)
Total n (%)
Moreover, Lowe Limited set up two new departments, Consumer Activation and
Corporate Communications in 2001. Consumer Activation department provided strategic
planning service in sales promotion activities and advertising, while Corporate
Communications department provided communication service for image building. The new
departments generated up to 20% of total revenues while the remaining revenues still came
from advertisings (Vanasin, 2003).
TBWA (Thailand) provided new customer relation service under the name “Taquilar”
and interactive business in 2001. Taquilar provided other services in IMC, which advertising
could not deliver, e.g. activity-based marketing, sales promotion and database marketing
(“TBWA...,” 2001). With the aim to increase the effectiveness of IMC implementation, CVT
& Bercia had two senior managers responsible for this service. This would raise the
effectiveness of IMC by integrating all the services to be responsible by a couple of senior
management, which is easier in terms of control and evaluation (Watcharathanont, 2001).
Leo Burnett created three new divisions called Leo Activition Promotion, Leo Activition P.R.
and iLeo. Leo Activition Promotion was responsible for sales promotion and marketing
activities, and Leo Activition PR was responsible for strategic PR service, while iLeo
provided CRM service (Rojmetha, 2003).
This research also found that there are 5 advertising agencies or 17.9% of total
samples that reorganized their firm structures. Leo Burnett reorganized their organization in
1993 by providing services in advertising, public relations, sales promotion and direct
marketing (“Agency khuern...,” 1997). DY&R made major organization restructure and Mr.
Dolachai Boonyarattawej was promoted to be the Chairman of DY&R group and Mr.
Parames Rajchaiboon became the Executive Chairman of DY&R group (“Agency khuern...,”
Spa Advertising, a local advertising agency, used to have a vertical-styled
management, which had several layers of management resulting in a slow decision process
unable to cope with the fast changing competitive environment. The new structure was a
horizontal-styled management, which had top executive working directly with customer
services department and creative department (Chumpunpong, 1999). In order to implement
IMC in 2001, TBWA (Thailand) reorganized its structure by expanding business and
investment in terms of technology and personnel (Chumpunpong, 1999). On the other hand,
Lowe Limited focused on the reduction of work forces. In 2002, it reduced its work forces by
15% from the existing 200 persons and made their staffs working more closely with clients
For the firms that established new firms to implement IMC, there were 4 advertising
agencies or 14.3% of total samples that followed this strategy. BIC set up two new
subsidiaries--Better Impact Presentation (BIP) in television business and Better Impact
Broadcasting (BIB) in radio business, in order to support clients (“Agency khuern...,” 1997).
In the middle of 1998, Grey Worldwide: Thailand established Grey Direct Interactive,
MediaCom, and Witch Bank Art. (Lumliengpol, 2000). Creative Juice/G1 established
Emerald Biz to provide IMC service (Boonyoungyuen, 2001). In 2001, Euro RSCG created
Euro RSCG Public Relations responsible for public relations and another company
responsible for marketing communication service (Howell, 2001).
There were 4 advertising agencies or 14.3% of total samples that formed business
alliances. Netscop, a small-sized advertising agency, worked with outside supporting team
(Kitikup, 1997a). CVT & Bercia allied with small advertising agencies (Nithiwannakul,
2000). Creative Juice/G1 worked with several business alliances including media house and
production house to support their business base and provide a full service more effectively in
2001 (Boonyoungyuen, 2001). DY&R provided IMC service to the Stock Exchange of
Thailand by working with its alliance called Nine East in 2001 (The Stock Exchange of
There were 4 advertising agencies or 14.3% of total samples that took over other
firms. In 1999, Euro RSCG took over Direct Impact, a specialist in direct digital and database
marketing (Howell, 2000, 2001). Moreover, major advertising agencies like Ogilvy &
Mather, DY&R, and Saatchi&Saatchi also took over other agencies specialized in each field
since major clients usually hired experts from various fields to work with their product
managers in each brand. Those experts usually had limited knowledge about other
communication tools that they hardly used (Wattana, 2003). Only 1 advertising agency or
3.6% of total samples merged with other firms. Euro RSCG announced the merger with an
advertising agency called Flagship in order to integrate the strong points of both firms and
provide a true full service (Waiyakornwilard, 2003).
Applications of IMC Tools in Thailand
This researcher divided communication tools to implement IMC in Thailand into 9
major categories as the followings: advertising, public relations, direct marketing, event
marketing, sales promotion, in-store marketing, word of mouth, personal selling, and
packaging. This research found that advertising agencies utilized advertising and public
relations the most. There were 11 firms or 100% of total samples that used advertising and
public relations and 8 firms or 73% of total also used “direct marketing” tool. There were 7
firms or 64% of total samples that used event marketing and sales promotion and 3 firms or
27% of total also used “in-store activities” tool. For word of mouth, personal selling, and
packaging, only 1 firm or 9% of total samples applied these tools, which considered not as
commonly used as other tools as can be seen in Table 3.
Table 3: Application of IMC Tools in Thailand
Agencies Public Direct Event Sales In-store Word of Personal
Relations Marketing Marketing Promotion Activities Mouth Selling
n 11 11 8 7 7 3 1 1 1
(% of total numbers
of advertising (100) (100) (73) (64) (64) (27) (9) (9) (9)
Furthermore, the researcher had gathered information on media used for
marketing communication tools in Thailand in details to show the board pictures of
individual tools as the followings:
“Advertising” tools in Thailand composed of advertising through different
media including TV commercial, radio, newspaper, magazine, theater, internet, cut-
out (at BTS—an electric train), bus-body, bus-back, bus-side, bus station, billboard,
building ad or sky ad, front of elevator ad, mirror ad in the toilet, CD, multimedia,
upcountry open-air cinema for selling products, postcard, leaflet or brochure. On-line
advertising could also be used by advertising in the special section of famous web
sites, e.g. Yahoo, via banner ads located on web page, roadblocks that internet users
had to pass through in order to get to other pages, push program that showed
advertising to users while the server transmitting data, interstitial and interstitial ad
that put advertising between the two web pages or pop-up interstitial that pop-up and
then disappeared after 5-15 seconds.
Public relations means the creation of activities to support or maintain the
good image of products and send message to target group in the form of news without
paying for it such as press release, lobbying, press conference, academic conference
and scholarship hand-out ceremony.
“Direct marketing” or one-to-one marketing in Thailand includes direct-
response advertising and direct selling or direct sales with personal sales or door-to-
door sales. There are two types of telemarketing or telemarketing catalogs, which are
in-bound telemarketing that clients call the firms to order and out-bound
telemarketing that firms contact clients or target group to persuade them to order
(tele-sales). The out-bound telemarketing can be done via call center or hotline to
answer questions, sending direct mail, fax, voice mail, email, sending catalogs in
printed format, CD, VDO or internet. Websales can be done through corporate web
site or marketing web site created to bring clients close to the sales or other marketing
benefits in the forms of online-marketing or E-commerce and E-marketing. IMC
strategists interested in direct marketing must study and consider the differences in
data before the data can be used effectively. Marketing database is the interactive
direct marketing approach via any media or channels to reach target group with
individual characteristics effectively. Marketing database usually composes of
demographic data geographical data, psychological data, life styles and historical
purchasing pattern of target group (Lohthongkum, 2002).
Event marketing or event sponsorship can focus on product, corporate and
community events. Event marketing means the use of special event or activity to
create the center of attention and the opportunity to expose to the product as well as
the connection between brand and target group. There are two main methods in event
marketing which are created events such product launching and anniversary
celebration of corporate or product and participating events, which are organized by
others such as trade show, or expo that many firms bring their products to participate
in such events. Both methods can lead to three objectives which are product events,
corporate events, and community events (Lohthongkum, 2002). Event marketing
brings brand into customers’ life styles and share the same experiences between target
group and brand, so sometimes it is called Life style marketing or the special event
Sales promotion is the use of short-term activities to attract target group to try
the product or service. The objective is to increase sales or market shares. This can
be done in various forms with customers, sales staffs or stores such as discount
coupons, special discounts, testing booth, product samples, premiums, sweepstakes
“In-store activities” include the design of show rooms or points of sale and
point of purchase (POP) communication by using poster, symbol, indoor and outdoor
banner, shelf-talker, counter card, and display, shopping-cart advertising, P-O-P radio,
case header, computerized consumer interactive displays, concept shop, stickers
attaching to different places, product demonstration, TV media at P-O-P, uniform,
door and window interior, double faced headers, dump bin for sales items, figures,
flagging devices, mascot, product jumbo, product miniature, sign lighted indoor and
outdoor, super graphic, table tents, wobbles, merchandising, and moving media, e.g.
umbrella, cap, key chains and bags.
“Word of mouth” is the personal communication channel, which includes
direct communication between 2 persons or more, public speech, telephone
conversation or e-mail (this channel is effective when there is an opportunity to
present and have personal feedback), advocate channels that sales staffs make
contacts with target group, expert channels that independent experts give speech to
target group, and social channels that include friends, neighbors, and family members
talking to target group. Buzz is the power to stimulate communication channels
through social group to introduce product and service. Personal influence can be
effective in 2 situations. The first situation is when the product is expensive, high risk
or regularly used since buyers need to get very detailed information. The second
situation is when the product is associated with status and personal taste of customers,
so the buyers need to consult with others to avoid losing face (Wattana, 2003).
Personal selling is done by sales staffs or sales promoters using their personal
persentation. Sales staffs need to be trained in terms of personal communication skills
to persuade target group to buy or try using the product. Last, packaging has also been
used as one of the tool to implement IMC in Thailand.
SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION
IMC has been popular with advertising agencies in Thailand. IMC was first
introduced in Thailand by international advertising agencies, e.g. Leo Burnett and
DY&R during 1993-1994. This could be due to the fact that Thai advertising was
closely similar to, and heavily influenced by, American advertising in terms of how
agency professionals in both countries work and manage their occupations
(Punyapiroje, Morrison, & Hoy, 2002). In 1998, after the Asian Crisis that hit
Thailand severely in terms of economic recession and the total advertisings expenses
by the large advertising agencies decreased by 17% as compared to those in 1997
(Mahamontri, 1999). This situation forced both international and local advertising
agencies to make adjustment by implementing IMC following the world trend.
Moreover, the top three advertising agencies in 2002 in terms of revenues were Lowe
Limited, Ogilvy & Mather, and McCann (The Advertising Association of Thailand)
were all found to have implemented IMC.
The traditional advertising always focus only with advertising related to
creating, producing and placing advertisements. On the contrary, in order to
implement IMC effectively, modern advertising agencies have made 6 major
adjustments to enhance their services. Majority of them (35.7% of total) chose to
establish new departments or team to provide extended services to complete the IMC.
17.9% of them chose to reorganize firm structures. The other three adjustments were
establishing new firms, forming business alliances, and taking over other firms. The
merging with other firms was used the least or accounted for only 3.6% of total firms.
The results were consistent with the research on the adjustment of advertising
agencies to implement in South Africa by Kallmeyer and Abratt (2001) that most of
advertising agencies had experienced organizational changes within the past five
years. The differences were that most advertising agencies in South Africa or 17% of
the total samples formed international alliances, another 17% were organized into
account teams, 15% were affected by an acquisition and 14% increased the number of
departmental specialists. 13% of the total samples outsourced a number of activities,
10% merged with another agency, 8% downsized, and 6% unbundled departments.
However, it should be noted that major advertising agencies in Thailand, e.g. DY&R,
Ogilvy&Mather, Grey Worldwide: Thailand, Lowe Limited, TBWA (Thailand), Euro
RSCG, BIC, CVT Bercia, and Creative Juice/G1 used more than one method in the
The researcher also found that advertising agencies applied “advertising” and
“public relations” activity as the main IMC tool. Every firms used advertising in all
forms of TV commercial, radio, newspaper, magazine, theater, internet, cut-out
(BTS—an electric train), bus-body, bus-back, bus-side, bus station, billboard,
building ad or sky ad, front of elevator ad, mirror ad in the toilet, CD, multimedia,
upcountry open-air cinema for selling products, postcard, leaflet or brochure, and on-
line advertising. For public relations, agencies used press release, lobbying, press
conference, academic conference, and scholarship hand-out ceremony. Furthermore,
IMC tools in Thailand included direct marketing, event marketing, sales promotion,
in-store activities, word of mouth, personal selling, and packaging. Most of the tools
are below the line activities. However, the below the line activity could continue to
have high growth in the future since more firms have found this to be a good
alternative especially when the advertising expenses through “above the line” activity
is very expensive (Vanasin, 2003).
Nevertheless, this research had several limitations including the 5-year
coverage and the data storage in the form of microfilm of dated newspapers in
Thailand, which required by-hand search for each individual news and articles. The
problems became even more troublesome as the quality of the microfilm decreases
with time and made the analysis more difficult. This was also another reason that the
researcher added the marketing magazines with 10-year coverage. However, not
many news or articles related to IMC appeared in the newspapers and magazines. In
order to have a better macro view of this topic and more solid results in the empirical
research, other types of documents such as academic journals, academic working
papers and student thesis could be added. These additional documents could be
helpful to find the origin of IMC in Thailand and a better understanding of the
implementation of IMC in Thailand.
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