New PMA Chief Discusses Integrated Marketing

Bonnie Carlson is on her way back to the Big Apple to take the helm on an interim basis of the Promotion Marketing Association, succeeding Claire Rosenzweig, who has ruled since 1996. Carlson is busy packing this week for the move from Chicago, to which she recently moved after leaving ConAgra in 2005 as vice president/integrated marketing. Along with her luggage, she's bringing a focus on the broadening scope of promotion marketing. Marketing Daily asked her for details.

Q: Why the change in approach from promotion-centered to integration?
A:
We see the need for marketing to be broader. Promotion marketing is the hub of the wheel, but integrated marketing's role has become broader, in corporations and at agencies. People are seeing the need to communicate across all elements of the mix in a similar way. Plus, the message gets to the consumer better because it's integrated. For lots of constituencies, it makes sense to start thinking about extending from an integrated perspective.

Q: What does integrated marketing do?
A:
It includes. It includes the retailer, the manufacturer, research ... It's a strategic way of spending money, backed by research. We have alliances with a number of universities--with Northwestern, for one--and we're looking more at research-based data and offering that as an added value to our members. That supports integrative marketing from an ROI perspective.

Q: Are you going to change the association's name?
A:
No. We're taking a 90-plus-year-old organization and making it more contemporary, tweaking it a little, to be more relevant to what's going on today. For example, at ConAgra [where I was vice president/integrated marketing], my responsibilities included Web marketing, public relations, packaging ...

Q: So your own career track is kind of a template for what's happening?
A:
Right. My background is in consumer packaged goods, first with General Foods, then Unilever, Nestle, ConAgra ... I created the promotion function at Unilever. They thought they should hire one person to do promotions. I grew the department. [Since then], my job titles have included [the words] promotion marketing, marketing services, database, direct marketing, market research, promotion and purchasing, president of an agency, package design, promotion, advertising consultant ... My own personal history has been broader than promotion.

You're seeing titles change. Now there are vice presidents of integrated marketing. Promotion is being racheted up a bit--but it's the foundation, the same skills sets, including PR, Web, packaging, events marketing, sponsorships.

Q: What are some of the new developments in promotion?
A: Shopper marketing. Retailers have gotten smart. They've come to understand branding and are selling their own private label products, using frequent shopper cards to learn about who their shoppers are. More and more you see major corporations like Coke, Kraft, P&G understanding that they need to be partners with retailers, share research, share programs.

It's not just promotion anymore; it's about encouraging loyalty and building brand equity.

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