Magazine article Marketing

Two Become One

Magazine article Marketing

Two Become One

Article excerpt

Why are so many global brands merging their marketing and PR functions, asks Jane Bainbridge.

As Renault and Nissan become the latest brands to integrate their PR and marketing functions, several questions remain about the motivation behind such changes.

Do they represent good business sense, or are they a simple cost-cutting exercise? Could they be proof that in a social-media age the lines between the disciplines have become blurred?

Whatever the rationale, the idea that brand communication is best served by one integrated team seems to be gaining momentum. Whether it's a full-blown trend yet is less clear, but by deciding to put a chief marketing officer at the head of a combined marketing and communications team, the car marques have joined a cross-sectoral list of companies that includes Warner Bros, Unilever and Aviva.

According to Simon Sproule, who has taken on the role of corporate vice-president, global marketing communications, at Nissan, the approach is in line with international brands' need for consistency and clarity of message. 'We believe integration helps build a more coherent, common communication platform,' he says. 'When a stakeholder can instantly compare what Nissan is saying in Japan to the UK, it makes no sense to have all functions off doing their own thing.'

Impact of online

This sentiment is echoed by Amanda Mackenzie, chief marketing and communications officer at Aviva. 'It has huge benefits because a brand is holistic,' she says. 'The more you manage it as a single entity, the more likely you are to get the results you want.'

Such arguments in favour of integration of PR and marketing are supported by many industry observers.

Tim Ambler, honorary senior research fellow at London Business School, is scathing of any organisation that has not considered adopting this approach. 'In some companies, especially business-to-business companies, PR is more important than advertising,'

he says. 'It's the main tool that the chief marketing officer uses for communicating with customers, so it's idiotic not to have it as part of marketing.'

If there was once a time when these disciplines could operate effectively without reference to one another, it changed with the advent of the internet and, in particular, social networking. …

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