Words I hate



"Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language... let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

Genesis 11: 5-7

Activation. You mean events, right?

Align. Same as agree. Just sounds neater and tidier.

Analytics. Whatever it is, it's somebody else's job.

Anthropology. Big word for watching people. Usually done by people who have no idea who Margaret Mead is.

Awards.Rosé-sodden sideshows.

Brainstorm. See Ideate.

Co-creation. Rarely does any good come of this.

Community. “We’re not in the business of selling people stuff. We’re in the business of enabling and nurturing communities.” Sure, sure.

Consumer. Fictional construct, whose psychology, preoccupations, motivations, and interests bear absolutely no resemblance to yours.

Content. Also known as 'branded content'. You mean spots? Oh, sorry, long spots. No? Oh, music videos? No? Sorry, you meant online films, right? Sorry, I didn't realize you were talking about sponsored documentaries. Actually, what are you talking about?

Conversation. What marketers think they’re having with the consumer. What normal people have with the friends and family in their lives.

Crowdsource. Fancy way of saying getting other people to solve your problems for absolute peanuts

Curate. What you do if you have no ideas of your own. Or work in a museum.

Data. Apparently it comes in different sizes. Though people only talk about 'big' data, never the small or medium data.

Dead. e.g. “Advertising is dead”. Used by shameless salespeople to convince you that you should be buying their product/service instead. Or by marketing fundamentalists.

Deliverable. A whole new noun that has yet to make it into the dictionary.

Digital. I have no idea what you mean. Do you? TV is digital. Vague to the point of being totally meaningless.

Engagement. An exercise in obfuscation. Guaranteed to leave everybody having no idea what you’re on about. Because you don't either.

Essence. Do brands have one? Getting to one provides a comforting feeling of control though.

Equity. Big word for brand image. But sounds more investor-friendly.

Fans.  Ever wonder why brands have so few of them? Pointless vanity metric. So, so 90s.

Filmic. It's a film is it? Well that is a particularly good adjective to describe it then. Like bookic and musicic.

Gamification. Call of Duty is an awesome game. Your app is just shit.

Ideate. No. It’s not about ideas. It’s about politics and buy-in. Which is fine. But let’s not pretend what we’re really doing.

Influencers. If they were really that cool, those DJs wouldn't be working with you.

Insight. Psychobabble drivel.

Integration. What you do when you want to spend at sub-optimal levels across a wide variety of channels.

Learnings. It’s not a word.

Leverage. Big word for 'use'.

Lightweight. Invisible and/or spam.

Listening. Pretending, you mean.

Loyalty. Maybe. Just not as we know it. Look at the data.

Marketing. Term for when companies talk to themselves. When people talk to themselves however, we call it madness.

Messaging. Some people still think this is what we do, apparently. So 60s.

Mission. Corporate mumbo-jumbo. Apparently a completely different thing from a Vision.

Monetize. Same as bastardize.

Onion. A bureaucratic, energy-sapping exercise in pedantry. Once done, never used. What you fill in if you have no culture. Perhaps it's no accident that it's the one vegetable that makes us weep.

Own. Guaranteed to send everyone off in a fruitless quest. If it’s relevant to consumers you won’t be able to own it. The product of misreading brand image data.

Overwhelmed. Nice way to say you "didn't do what I asked for".

Participation. What you expect if you truly believe ordinary people have too much time on their hands

Personality. Precursor to a laundry list of banal adjectives. See also Onion.

Pyramid. See Onion.

Positioning. What you spend a lot of time on if you choose to deny the truth that in the real world for real people, brands are all much of a muchness.

Reach Out. You can text, phone, e-mail, or talk to me, but you’re not touching me.

Relationships. A metaphor with so, so much to blame for. People have relationships with people. Not brands. Deal with it.

Research. What we call something when it's done too late and for all the wrong reasons.

ROI. Want infinity ROI? Reduce your marketing spend to zero.

Segmentation. Favorite board game of researchers. In which one divides the world up into unrecognizable groups of people and gives them ass-achingly glib, alliterative nicknames, e.g. Spendthrift Smittys and Cautious Kathies.

Social. Prefix that renders everything and anything au courant, e.g. social business, social strategy, social insight, etc.

Storytelling. What planners bang on about endlessly.

Strategist. I’m a fucking planner, alright? What was good enough for King and Pollitt is good enough for me. I like to feel I’m part of the proud tradition they began.

Synergy. See Integration

Temple. See Onion.

Test. What one does when one has no opinion.

Transmedia. The triumph of theory over practice.

Trend. What charlatans pretend to ‘watch’.

TV. The medium that in some quarters dare not speak its name.

Underwhelmed. Nice way to say "yours is a shit idea".

Utility. What you bang on about if you’ve forgotten that the whole point of brands and products has always been to be useful.

Validate. You mean ass-cover, right?

Viral. Something you think you want, but don't actually have the balls to do.

Vision. Corporate mumbo-jumbo. Apparently a completely different thing from a Mission.


. See



We call ourselves communicators. We talk about the importance of building 'authentic' brands.  Yet we spend much of our time either not speaking the plain truth. Or simply not making any sense.

We are awash with marketing doublespeak.

Please, people of marketing- and adland, could we have just a little more honesty? A little more and clarity?

And lot less self-serving bullshit?