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Simplicity Is the Universal Language

Be sensitive to the new needs of cross-cultural America
  • January 16 2012

Here comes the understatement of the century: reaching an audience as diverse as U.S. Census statistics show is not easy.

As the population evolves into one where languages and ethnicities co-exist as never before, it becomes imperative that our messages be clear, direct and easily understood by all. Simplicity is the new universal language, and the simpler your message, the better chance you have at reaching the broadest of audiences. Say it simply and say it directly.

As an agency that centers its creative philosophy on the art of reduction, or “Simple Enough” as we call it, this geo-cultural trend is one that we embrace and work hard to master. But to be clear, it’s not a nice to have; it’s a must have for any brand that wants to succeed today. With such a proliferation of market and media options, no brand can afford to be complex or too clever in their communications. Brands must be cognizant that audiences aren’t seeking our message or particularly interested in them. So, we have to be respectful of their time (and that attention span) and still reward them with something provocative, entertaining…and simple. It’s safe to say the best ideas are always the simplest in any expression, but especially in advertising, and especially today.

In this environment, simplicity isn’t just the charge of the creative department. It must start at the strategy stage. No longer is the objective to look at the many diverse audiences, languages and backgrounds to see how many different insights separate them. Rather, the goal is to uncover the one insight that pulls all audiences together.

To quote our chief strategic officer in Orange County, Ken Muench: “We can no longer look at the U.S. in the segregated terms of multicultural, but rather as a cross-cultural, total market approach where viewpoints from different cultures and subcultures are blended into one distinct and simple message.”

Of course, this movement toward a more universal simplicity may not be more evident than it is in the creative award shows. Having been in the jury rooms for both national and international shows, I have seen an equal determination from entries in all mediums to be simple, quick and visual. What might have once been the place for clever wordsmithing by copywriters has become the art director’s canvas, where visual stories are borderless. This is where the world is today, and this is where the U.S. is going.


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