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Lessons on integrated marketing inside a box of Crayola Crayons

I found myself today in yet another discussion about the merits of traditional media vs. new media. I wish these terms would evaporate because we’re still trapped in a 1999 marketing dictionary.

Here’s what I try to remember to keep myself sane in these conversations:

If you want to make a 20 year old laugh, refer to the web as new media. Ditto for mobile.

Debating the merits of new media vs. traditional media is as useful as debating television vs. print. It’s all media. What matters is knowing how, when and why you use each.

Digital must be planned as part of the main course, not the side dish. Continuing the food metaphor, Burger King’s Whopper Freak-out made for a good commercial, but the true depth of the idea was found online. One couldn't exist without the other.

There is no such thing as traditional media, only traditional uses of media. Is BDM’s mobile text campaign for Applied Materials “traditional” because it appears on a billboard? Of course not. Conversely, should a not-too-distinctive rich media ad be considered “new” because it appears online? (You get the point.)

Digital has as much branding power as television and print. Television will become a pure digital medium in early 2009, offering the targeting and accountability we demand of online marketing. Which is traditional? Which is the branding medium?

Mobile has the power to immediately transform every billboard, television commercial and print ad into opt-in interactive media. Just add a text call to action instead of a URL.

I believe we learned the basics of integrated marketing at age five when we got our first giant box of Crayola 64 crayons. Before getting this box we drew fairly mundane pictures using traditional colors like blue, red and brown. Then, with 64 crayons suddenly at our disposal, we used every color imaginable (because we could) and made really confusing drawings.

In time, we learned how and when to blend a little green and brown with a touch of wild strawberry and neon carrot. We didn’t debate which one was the traditional color, we just knew they blended together to make for a beautiful drawing.