Let’s Start a Clear Speak Movement

Let’s abandon all those annoying “marketing jargon” words and start saying what we mean and meaning what we say.

You know what I’m talking about….





And so on…

I don’t know about you, but I actually find these words creeping into my home life.

I find myself talking to my husband about implementation of our weekend plans.

What I am really trying to say is how the hell are we going to get two kids to two different soccer games and three different birthday parties all at the same time (and why did we end up in this situation in the first place?).

Maybe we were being too opportunistic in accepting all those invitations (there I go again).

We didn’t think about managing risk and protecting the downside (oops, sorry).

And we certainly didn’t think about the negative impact on our own sanity- or our gas tanks for that matter- schlepping all over the suburbs.

Anyone want to start a movement? Or a support group?

Let’s get together and ideate on how to mobilize.

Oh god, help me quick.

Marketing Speak is taking over.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What jargon makes you cringe?

10 thoughts on “Let’s Start a Clear Speak Movement

  1. Hahahaha! I find myself talking in terms of bandwidth which I HATE ie: I REALLY don’t have the bandwidth to take on another project right now. I guess that might be more tech-speak creeping into day-to-day life, but nonetheless.

  2. Julie, I do think we need to operationalize your insights in a platform-independent, device-agnostic manner. It will be such respiratory intake of oxygenate elements to be able to undertake interlocutory exchanges without the distractions of lexicographical inside-baseball. I think that would really dimensionalize interoperability, not to mention improve efficiency and ROI.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. Let’s just address the elephant in the room, get the moose on the table, and figure this out.

    (I’ve always had a particularly strong affinity for the zoo-related jargon.)

    Have a safe, happy, and fully maximized Thanksgiving.

  4. @Russell, you are a master. If I ever meet you I’m not sure whether I should shake your hand or knock you out 🙂

    I wrote about this here:


    Please feel free to use the pacman logo as you wish.

    I know this is long, but I hope you find it interesting, a letter to the industry (from 2004):

    Dear Industry

    Another day, another brief and once again I see you insist on calling people “consumers.” Where did this odious term come from?

    I suspect it’s part of a slew of business-speak which came form Rand Corporation in the 1950’s along with other delightful marketing jargon such as “target” and “campaign.”

    Sometimes this job feels like a war of attrition for people’s minds. Does it really have to be like this? I think not and would like to try and change it.

    This attempt at change has amounted to not much more than me ranting at conferences and bleating on comments pages. Maybe the message will get through eventually?

    The message is simple: If we want to improve our behavior as an industry*, we have to change the way we think and talk about our customers.

    Our friends, lovers, family and colleagues are not consuming pac-men, they are human beings.

    This isn’t a war, it’s a game of seduction. So let’s drop the war technique of de-humanizing people via semantics.

    Gooks, Tommy, Towel Heads, Hoodies, Honkey, Consumer.

    How about something more respectful: audience, customer, client or just plain old people?

    Don’t worry, I will understand you when you say in your briefs, “we would like people to think our brand is lovely and talk about it to all their friends.”

    I prefer it to “Develop an engaging campaign to generate positive WOM amongst our target 18-54 m/f consumers” don’t you?

    Try it, you have nothing to lose.

    If you agree with this sentiment, please feel free to grab the pac logo and place it on your site.

    Yours sincerely,

    Floyd Hayes.

    1.*Which we do right? Improved behavior may make us less despised by the general public and who knows, may actually sell more of your stuff…

    1. Great comments every one.

      Russell, hats off. You are clearly a master of erudite elocution and have effusively enlightened us all.

      Todd, I think you should remember a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. (what DOES that mean?)

      Adda, I sympathize. I find myself talking about living life in beta all the time.

      Floyd I totally agree with the sentiment. We are not consumers- we are human beings who buy (not purchase) things.

      Another thing I’ve noticed is how military our marketing lingo is: target, defensive action, mobilize, arsenal of media choices etc.

      I know it’s tough out there. But does it need to feel like war? I guess we need to re-trench and come up with another plan of attack….oops.

  5. @Julie

    I’ve always thought of it as a game of seduction because:

    a) It’s more fun

    b) it’s a more effective approach and way to think of the dialogue

    Imagine going into a bar or whatever and try to get a date speaking in marketing jargon…


    Make Love Not War.


  6. At the end of the day, we can run it up a flagpole and see if it flies, after putting together a ball park estimate, hopefully to find low hanging fruit, or we’ll brainstorm, only to find out that the client is always right and this sort of language feeds the ever growing brandobubble.

  7. @ Anth

    I HATE HATE HATE the word “bucket” too. I’ve learned to live with “ideation” but “bucket?”

    What a way to reduce weeks of creative work to post-abattoir slop…

    I’m off to buy the book you suggested. In return, I strongly recommend “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris. It looks corny but it’s one of the most useful business books I’ve read.

    Thanks Anth.

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