Transformational 4As Mash-Up Focuses on a More Perfect Union - Michael Kassan - MediaBizBloggers

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Beginning this weekend, some of the most potent minds in marketing and media will gather in San Francisco for the first ever mash-up of the 4A's Management and Media Conferences. And the buzzwords are bouncing around in my head like the lyrics of a legendary Temptations hit.

Collaboration. Transformation. Integration. Monetization. Digitization. Disintermediation.

Sure sounds like a Ball of Confusion to me.

That's what the world is today.

Doesn't that musical litany to the enormous changes tearing the world apart in 1970 also neatly describe the extraordinary forces reshaping the communications industry circa 2010? In fact, you can't even define the current environment without an orgy of expository hyphenation. Ergo the 4A's invitation to "join your peers from across the marketing-communications-media ecosystem."

Whew, that's a mouthful. But no less accurate for it.

Actually, the fact that we now operate in an "ecosystem" rather than a "marketplace" pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? Everything's a mash-up now.

But as I used to say about new business back when I ran a media agency, there are no conflicts, only ironies. And—ironically—that's why I like where the 4A's is going with this union of all aspects of the communications business, appropriately themed "Transformation."

The largest and smartest advertisers in the world have thoroughly shaken up their own organizations to allow for effective and efficient integration of ideation, content creation, activation and engaged persuasion. How well you play with others on the marketing team can now determine whether or not you have a happy client or a soon-to-be ex-client.

That's where the world is today.

This is familiar territory for us at MediaLink. The idea that the lines dividing creative from media, Hollywood from Madison Avenue and content creators from media consumers have disappeared, and that a new holistic approach is needed, is the philosophical framework upon which our consultancy has been built.

So I, for one, am excited at the prospect of having us all in the same place at the same time, talking about our problems and our opportunities together. It will be interesting to see if we agree or argue, discuss or debate, listen or shout.

Maybe we'll do all of that. But whatever happens, I have high hopes that we'll be taking some innovative thinking away with us when we leave Baghdad by the Bay.

As Jay Chiat famously said, it's all about the work. It doesn't matter who's driving anymore. We all have to work together or nobody's going anywhere.

And that's the name of that tune.

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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