Break Media debuts the Acumen Report: The Modern "Mensch" and the Power of Insight - Michael Kassan

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Cover image for  article: Break Media debuts the Acumen Report: The Modern "Mensch" and the Power of Insight - Michael Kassan

Narrative and marketing both rely on insight. And sometimes, necessity is the mother of innovation.

That's the driving force behind a fascinating new study conducted by Break Media, Hunter Qualitative, and DB5 research capturing the attitudes and behaviors of more than 2,000 men aged 18-49, which turns popular—or at least relentlessly media-perpetuated—stereotypes about the knuckle-dragging American male upside down.

It is insight we might never have received—or at least not so quickly—if not for necessity.

Break Media, of course, is the single largest creator and distributor of male-targeted content online, reaching an audience of more than 200 million and including the web's largest humor site,, plus men's lifestyle and gaming verticals. It's been so successful in reaching males that it's almost an online meme unto itself.

But Break realized that its audience was underserved in research. There is far less marketing data on men than one might imagine. To retain its pre-eminence in the niche, then, the company commissioned the Acumen Report. Call it marketing self-defense.

And surprise! Perhaps not so accidentally, it discovered a revolution in how guys see themselves.

The study found that only half of the men surveyed are trying to be more well-rounded. Men placed a greater emphasis on being in stay at home roles, participating in traditionally non-male tasks, and striving to support their family and community over being only career minded. In fact, more than 2 out of 3 would sacrifice career advancement for more time with their family. More than 1 in 4 men are stay-at-home dads and in fact, 55% of all of the respondents said they'd love to take care of their kids' fulltime.

None of these attitudes threatened anyone's masculinity in the slightest. The survey respondents still love sports, still love to challenge themselves ("even if it's weird or stupid"), still are, you know, guys. But they are also mensches.

This resonates to me like other recent quantum leaps in consumer insight, such as the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign. Like the Unilever brand, Break already is an expert on its target. But it understands that in a digital world, anticipation is a critical component of continued success, whether the subject in question is storytelling or marketing—or, in the case of branded content, both.

As Break CEO Keith Richman recently wrote in a Forbes guest column, "there are thousands of things that must go right from ideation to execution in order to truly create a compelling piece of content." And one of the first things that must go right is your understanding of how your consumers are changing. In other words, actionable insight.

This study allows Break to refine its content, to continue to deliver authenticity to its audience and, not coincidentally, partner most effectively with advertisers. And that is the mother of all success in a digital ecosystem.

Find out more about the Break Media research here:

And read Keith Richman's excellent article published yesterday on the Huffington Post which distills the research nicely.

Michael E. Kassan is Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, LLC, a leading Los Angeles and New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical counsel and direction on issues of marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. Michael can be reached at

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