Advertising and marketing agencies are great places to work. Vibrant, fun and excitingly creative. But over the years – parallel to some fine work, watertight strategies and focused outcomes – agencies have developed a whole new language. Strange, made-up phrases that, for some reason, replace perfectly good ones that mean exactly the same thing. Nonsensical? Yes. But very much alive and can be heard in agency boardrooms across the land every day of the week.
They’ve become part of the fabric of agency life, yet while we all love to poke fun at them – and those who use them on a stellar level – we have to admit that we all fall into the cliché trap every now and then.
New media, new job titles
With progress comes new media, new responsibilities and, inevitably, new roles and titles. So, in the digital world, we have ‘Back End Developers’ and ‘Digital Prophets’ (someone who makes predictions about the future of tech in the IT industry, apparently).
But is ‘Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence’ worse? No. Why? Because it sounds like someone isn’t taking themselves too seriously (and because we like this one), whereas Mr. Prophet on the other hand…
Yet the traditional and, let’s face it, comprehensible titles – Manager, Executive and such – simply don’t cut it. So titles like Account, Creative, Multi-media and SEO, for example, come with Rockstar, Ninja, Guru, Sherpa, Trailblazer and the like.
What does it all mean?
We’re all entitled to have a bit of fun giving ourselves highfalutin titles, but unless they have meaning – an undisputed, unmistakable obviousness – do we run the risk of clients becoming confused about our business?
Tattoo Fixers comes to mind.
The E4 programme is the platform for individuals to glean a snippet of glory through a 15-minutes-of-fame portal. Displaying permanent profanities (and much worse) that have been badly tattooed upon their bodies is their moment. The ‘artists’ then attempt to cover them up. Mostly with equally-bad tattoos.
Job titles, it could be said, are just like bad tattoos. Clients might think they’re funny, but is that what we really want?
And so back to our Advertising ‘Verbal Cheese’ Hall of Fame. Did we mention we do have fun – even at the expense of ourselves? Enjoy…
Adding ‘Hacking’ after another word
Growth Hacking, Life Hacking, Food Hacking… and then someone to manage all this hacking is a Hacker. Isn’t that a devious fiend who identifies your bank details online and relieves you of your hard-earned cash? It seems not. We’re assuming this craze has been brought on by social media in all its cool youthfulness and, with much research, ‘hacking’ seems to be sharable unconventional inventions designed to make ‘life’ easier. So what’s wrong with the word ‘invention?’
Let’s do lunch
“I’ll pretend to like you by suggesting a different time and place to talk to you, because in reality I’m bored talking to you right now and I want to go and do something else.”
Blue sky thinking
So, since this ‘thing’ has been doing the rounds, we’ve come to learn that it means ‘thinking outside the box’. Somebody actually invented this. Maybe it was the BS Hacker.
Thinking outside the box
Approach a creative problem in an unconventional way. Firstly, isn’t that the route to creativity anyway? And do we now have to call this ‘Think Hacking’?
Window of opportunity
Suddenly, the ability to reap the rewards of a situation presents itself – but there’s only a short timeframe in which to achieve it. So seize the day, grab the bull by the horns and, if it’s the ability to rid the world of the phrase ‘window of opportunity’, do it now! Brick anyone?
Singing from the same hymn sheet
We think this should simply be “all in agreement”, don’t you agree? Agreed!
Close of play
How about end of the working day? Or maybe 5.30pm? Or, if you wanted to be a bit more continental – 17.30?
Like everything great and not so great in history, the Advertising ‘Verbal Cheese’ Hall of Fame will continue to receive constant attention. Sure, there are those who believe the hype, hoodwinked into picking up the mantle and spreading cheesiness to the unsuspecting, but these phrases, and many, many more like them, can sometimes be a welcome interlude of amusement. And of course, without them, we’d be cheated out of enjoying one of their greatest ambassadors: David Brent.
He makes them all worthwhile.