MediaLinked: Keep It Simple – Old Wisdom for a New Age - Michael Kassan - MediaBizBloggers

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Eons ago, marketers had a favorite catchphrase: "keep it simple."

Every good thought leader knows the power of that ancient advice. Any subject or task or field, no matter how complex, can be understood if you break it down to basics. That may be especially true of marketing and media today.

Even Albert Einstein, whom you may recall was no dummy, allowed that "you do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother."

Speaking of relativity, do you know what the phrase "Galilean invariance" means? Me neither. And truth be told, I don't know how many of us truly grasp the "theory of relativity."

But Einstein just kept it simple. "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute," he explained," and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That's relativity."

Boom. You are all now lovably eccentric mega minds with weird hair.

Seriously, though, while I can't demystify the cosmos like Einstein could, I think I understand the marketing ecosystem as well as, and on my good days maybe even better than, most. And it seems to me that even in our glittering new dig verse, keeping it simple is good advice.

Add to that another simple old saw –"something old, something new"—and you have the makings of a smart and actionable modern marketing strategy.

This idea has been uppermost in my mind recently, as I wrote congratulatory remarks for the induction of our client, Unilever North American Media Director Rob Master, into the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Achievement, the prestigious award for advertising professionals age 40 and under.

Unilever's won just about every award given for marketing excellence, and its campaigns by now are iconic. Rob was in the middle of most of them, and his innovations—the "reverse upfront," and particularly his approach to utilizing digital and emerging media—are why he richly deserves the honor. But underpinning all of his efforts is—you guessed it—keeping it simple and uniting something old with something new.

Whether it's Dove's Real Beauty, which mixed traditional media with user-generated plays and, of course, extraordinary viral efforts, or Axe, with its adroit combination of channels, the implicit philosophy behind all of these campaigns hews perfectly to our friend Albert's sage advice.

Even our grandmothers can get, and more importantly, are engaged by, Unilever's campaigns.

This truth is evident everywhere in the communications ecosystem, in any category and every campaign. As I wrote previously, the Super Bowl has reaffirmed its place atop the platform firmament in large part because of social network buzz—and no doubt new media is a big reason why Fox has already sold out avails for this old-media archetype this year.

This month, America went—reluctantly, no doubt, and grumbling—into the voting booth and Ad Age was moved to report that, whoops, maybe the Internet isn't all you need to get elected and TV advertising still works pretty darn well.

There's a difference, after all, between simple and simplistic.

As Einstein said, "keep everything as simple as possible—but not simpler."

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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