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An Open Letter To Al Ries, Advertising Age Columnist:
Integrated Marketing -- It Works, and It's Here to Stay!

By Patrick Di Chiro
Chairman and CEO, THUNDER FACTORY, Inc.

Dear Editor:

If provocative headlines translated into consulting revenues, Al Ries would rival McKinsey and Company by now. First Mr. Ries tried to sell us on his questionable hypothesis that advertising is falling, while PR rises. (Actually, the ad industry fared comparatively better than PR during the recent economic meltdown.) Now, Mr. Ries is claiming that integrated marketing is joining the advertising industry on that slippery slope to marketing oblivion ( "The Disintegration of Integrated Marketing," Al Ries, Feb. 16).

The fact is that integrated marketing, in philosophy and practice, is gaining both agency and client-side acceptance every day. The question is not whether adveritisng, PR and direct mail agencies will all converge into integrated firms. Of course they won't. The marketing industry continues to be very fragmented and it's highly unlikely that will change in the foreseeable future.

The real questions are: What is the most effective way to acquire, activate and retain customers today? And, what do clients really want? Integrated marketing firms -- as well as marketers like P&G's Jim Stengel, who commented on these issues in the Feb. 16 issue of Ad Age -- understand that in today's fully networked world, you can't engage customers and prospects through only one media channel.. Clients also understand that the fragmented and frequently inefficient traditional agency model is fundamentally broken.

Smart clients now demand new thinking on media, greater focus on ROI and better integration of strategy and tactics across the entire marketing spectrum. Can integrated marketing agencies deliver on those demands? Absolutely. They are doing so right now across the US, and the world.

Just because huge agencies continue to stick to their respective knitting, and small ones break off to pursue specialty areas, does not mean that integrated marketing is not here to stay. Today's drastically changed market and media landscape demands an integrated approach in marketing. Increasingly, so do clients.