The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Nonsensical Meaning …
September 29, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things that really gets on my tits is when I see communication using language designed to basically alienate the masses rather than attract them.

Acronyms … buzzwords … it’s like they’ve forgotten what communication is designed to do.

OK … OK … so there’s a school of thought that if you use language that represents the industry you’re talking to, you will resonate with them more deeply than if you used ‘normal’ language, however to that I say bullshit.

People who run billion dollar companies are still human.

People who develop technology are still human.

Accountants are [allegedly] still human.

Dustmen are still human.

I get that brands might want to make their specific audience feel special … more important … unique … but using language that basically makes them look like a bunch of cocks to everyone else who sees the stuff is hardly achieving their goal.

Have a look at this …

What the fuck does ‘The Limitless Power of Synergy’ mean?

What are they synergising? Why is it limitless? And who the hell is PTT in the first place?

Seriously, that line is even more bollocks than that ad and that is saying something.

OK, so they’re a company with lots of different divisions that all work together – why can’t they say that?

Synergy is one of those words that basically highlights you’re a cock. Like saying vitality. What the fuck does vitality actually mean?

I remember sitting in a Unilever meeting and asking what ‘efficacy’ meant – a word they were throwing around like it was confetti.

Of course they looked at me like I was mad, however when I pointed out that the average punter who buys their deodorant doesn’t talk like that and all they’re doing is letting their ego and need for self importance cloud their communication judgement, they accepted I might have a bit of a point.

How can an industry that claims to know how to inspire and attract the masses end up putting forward language that does anything but?

Of course we all know – because they core goal is to keep the CEO happy rather than the masses – but the skill we have is understanding how people think, believe and do and every time one of these corporate piles of bollocks gets produced, we’re demonstrating we don’t really have a clue.

Apple get it.

Their penetration of the business market hasn’t required them to start using tech terms … or corporate speak.

They know the people they’re talking to don’t require ads with big, pointless management-speak headlines featuring people wearing ties to be attracted to them … they know these people are the same as you and I, people who react to clear, simple, meaningful messages and copy – so next time you’re evaluating copy, test it on your Mum or Dad and if they look confused, get out the pen and start writing it again – not because they’re stupid, but because they’re human.

47 Comments so far
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Jargon alienates.

Comment by John

what the fuck is happening with you doddsy? youre commenting less, youre not being a pedantic fuck and what you do mutter is sounding more and more like some planners bullshit yoda statement on their wank creative brief.

come on, i have high fucking hopes for you, dont make me think youre really a planning prick in disguise.

Comment by andy@cynic

And you’ve been defending Campbell and apologising for swearing at a student!

Anyway, a two word comment that sums up the whole mess of a post couldn’t possibly be confused for planning-speak. Planners get paid by the word.

Comment by John

im not defending any fucker so watch your fucking mouth doddsy.

if planners are paid by the word, campbell must be fuckin loaded. excuse me, i have to go and kill myself.

Comment by andy@cynic

The pedantic prosecution rests its case:

Comment by John

I must admit John, I’m as concerned about Andy’s behaviour as you seem to be. Very disturbing.

Comment by Rob

on the fucking bright side doddsy, youre not writing shit like the “limitless power of synergy” so youre not a total fucking right off. yet.

Comment by andy@cynic

better campbell, better.

petty, angry, bitter, miserable, condescending. this is why i was willing to talk to you and get sucked in to your evil fucking plan to fuck up my life.

more shit like this and there may be hope for this fucking blog and your fucking career.

Comment by andy@cynic

I think an intervention might be in order

Comment by John

people who run billion dollar companies are still human.
people who develop technology are still human.
accountants are still human.
dustmen are still human.

of all the fucking examples you could have used you chose careers chosen by people who are social fucking lepers.

and dustmen are because my uncle was one and he is in fucking prison now for fucking burglary so one bad bastard, all bad bastard.

way to go with getting people on your fucking side campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh yes, Dustman Boucher, the black sheep of your family, how could I forget given you used to say it as if it gave you carte blanche to do whatever you like because compared to him, you’d always look like a saint in your families eyes. You were wrong. Ha.

Comment by Rob

unilever looked at you like a fuckwit because they were planning their male grooming assault and the person they had sent to help them looked like he a representative of everything wrong in male maintenance.

not as bad as the faces that greeted you when you went to help chanel and prada. i thought both those glam fuckers were going to kill themselves on the fucking spot.

Comment by andy@cynic

OK … so it was for those reasons as well.

Comment by Rob

synergistic vitality.

$100 to the planning fuck that sells that to a fuckwit client. youll be torn limb from limb by me immediately afterwards but $100 is $100.

Comment by andy@cynic

I like this post for all the reasons Andy states and the fact you are pointing out expressions like this have no meaning or commercial value other than to the CEO of the company who approved it.

Your point about Apple is especially valid. You cannot distinguish their B2B work from their B2C work because they target humans first, something the people at PTT group and their agency would do well in remembering.

Comment by Pete

toady twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

+1 (for Pete, not Andy)

Comment by Bazza

Getting a bit worried about your punching bag Andy, bit too much of saying the fucking obvious of late, of course it could be he feels we need it. What do you think.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

i think the fucker cant think for himself and stating the obvious is his only fucking way. like all fucking planners.

then with fucking shit like this being approved, maybe hes not so fucking out of touch with reality as i like to fucking think he is.

Comment by andy@cynic

While many on this blog may feel Robert is stating the obvious, it is apparent by the standard and volume of communication floating around us that there are many people and organizations who would regard his views as anything but. They are the ones who need to listen.

Comment by George


Comment by Bazza

The thing is Ciaran, stating the obvious is in the eye of the beholder and while you think that’s what I’m doing … and to be honest, I think that’s what I’m doing … there’s a lot of people who obviously think writing this sort of bollocks is OK when it plainly isn’t.

But the thing is, that’s all by the by because I don’t write this blog pretending it gives people a shortcut to greatness … far from it, they’d probably be better off doing the total opposite of what I say … I just write my stream of rantiness based on whatever either gets my goat or makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Of course, being in this industry means that things that make my blood pressure rise tends to win more times than things that make me go all Barbara Cartland.

Comment by Rob

aint that the fucking truth.

Comment by andy@cynic

Andy, did you read Mr. Jobs comment on planners in the Ad Contrarian’s post on Monday?

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

i didnt. wonder if baz did.

baz? did your boss slag you off? oh i forgot, youre not called a fucking planner anymore are you, youre some fucking anthropologist bollocks arent you.

and where the fuck is campbell?

Comment by andy@cynic

I wish I didn’t like your comment Andy but I do. Sorry Baz, don’t take it personally.

And I’m very touched you are so worried about my whereabouts. I know it’s only because you miss giving me shit, but it’s still nice.

Anyway I’m back so stop your whining. Ha.

Comment by Rob

fuck you you little bitch.

Comment by andy@cynic

Rob, obviously I read your blog every day, because I get some value from it, but I have gotten greater value from the the times you have made me stretch to understand what you are getting at. Which is why I think you would respond more positively to Steve Jobs comment to Lee Clow than most. From someone who was around with Mr. King and Mr. Pollitt back in the day. And I might add, what a day!

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

i fucking love that you said “some” value.

fucking excellent back handed slap in the fucking face.

i fucking like you ciaran. good work.

Comment by andy@cynic

everyone is stretched to get what campbell is going on about. thats because he makes no fucking sense.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hello Ciaran – I’m quite chuffed you get any value from my blog and I’m not being humble, I really am … especially given your history and experience.

I had read Steve Jobs comments to Lee Clow and in typical fashion, I agree with some and I don’t agree with others … but that has as much to do with my view on Lee Clow as it does to do with my view on Steve Jobs.

I do think it would be interesting to hear Baz’s view given Mr Jobs hired him as one of his personal planners [even if his job title is more like the one Andy gave to him] however I still think the main issue with planners [and creatives and marketing managers] is that they think like planners rather than humans who can understand the emotional complexities going on in people and societies lives and minds and express to others it in a simple, yet inspiring way so they can do something powerful and meaningful with it.

Too many in adland approach humanity like soulless robots which is why so much of what comes out are either meaningless drivel, sponsored jokes or product developments that are more devolutionary than evolutionary.

Comment by Rob

What Dodds said. Also, keep it simple.

Mum and Dad are the best authorities on copy. They understand Apple’s ads.

Comment by Carol L. Weinfeld

At the risk of being platitudinous Ciaran, the point is surely that common sense is sadly very rare and we do need to air the bleeding obvious again and again and again. And probably always will. Frustrating yes, but better than navel-gazing debates about the relative merits of Foursquare and Groupon in the context of holistic digital marketing strategies.

After all, if any other business had released as many dud products as the ad/marketing industry does, it would have crumbled into the soil years ago.

Disclaimer: This should in no way be construed as an endorsement of the content of this blog or the alleged thoughts of its author.

Comment by John

What the hell is happening to you and Andy!

You’re both being protective. What the hell have you guys been drinking?

Comment by Rob

By the time you work out what we’re up to, it will be too late.

Comment by John

You better make it happen in less than 24 hours then or all your best laid plans will be up in smoke.

Comment by Rob

Not another holiday!

Comment by John

Oh fuck yeah.

And it’s a national holiday one.



Communism bloody rocks.

Comment by Rob

And why are you up so early???

Comment by Rob

Because you seem to have no idea what time it is.

Comment by John

But I thought you rose at 3pm GMT?

Comment by Rob

I have a client who, when he wants to park a discussion for later, doesn’t say, ‘I’ll talk to you later’ he says, ‘Let’s take that offline’
I do a lot of digital stuff right now, but can’t stand working with some digital people. They cannot speak human, nor want to try.

Comment by northern

Whenever someone says that to me … of which they do often … I always [and I mean ALWAYS] say:

“You mean you want to talk about that later?”

There is always a pause … maybe a microsecond, maybe a second or two … before they answer and I know that in that gap, their brain is going into hyper-mode as they try and work out if they’ve said something stupid or wrong before they smugly reply, “yes” without realising that the whole point of my question was to make their stupid smug smile appear on their stupid smug face because it lets me work out if they are a corporate toady or someone who momentarily forgot they are a human being.

Pathetic and childish, but it makes me feel good.

Comment by Rob

Even more fun is inventing words and see if they question you
Only a tit wouldn’t ask what the hell you’re on about

Comment by northern

One man’s pedant is er me.

Comment by John

The one key thing I took from writing for business people was – they like simple and to the point.

Jargon and long winded management speak are just bad. People think they sound smart but they just sound pompous or artificially inflated.

Comment by Rob Mortimer


Comment by Billy Whizz

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