Why do marketing people use excessive jargon?

There’s an awful lot of made up nonsense language in marketing. Here’s some recent examples:

The challenge we’re seeing is that “paid” is no longer the hero in the marketing mix. “Earned and owned” are playing more prominent roles than ever before. To really engage in conversations with stakeholders, brands are developing and curating quality content that cuts through the clutter. The spots and dots only work if they’re tightly woven into a consistent and ongoing narrative from and about the brand.

No doubt, advertising agencies can produce the smartest creative, but their businesses were not built to deliver within the speed and cost parameters required for “always-on” content marketing. Brands like ours need highly creative content — lots of it. Advertising agencies have highly creative people — lots of them. But does the Madison Avenue business model survive their clients’ demands for content at scale delivered in much more nimble and efficient ways?

Christa Carone – Chief Marketing Officer, Xerox Corporation

The bold highlighting on certain words is from me. The rest of this marketing nonsense came from Christa’s mouth and was reported via this article and research on the Harvard Business Review.

Here’s another one:

It’s important to get digital reach and viewership data on par with TV and to accurately measure buzz in order to get more accurate return-on-investment analysis for all media, Mr. Schmidt said.

Digital ROI has to be a financial measure that allows us a consistent measurement of business performance over time,” he said, and also lets marketers make informed tradeoffs between media.

Eric Schmidt – Senior Manager-Marketing Strategy and Insights, Coca-Cola

Goodness, what a load of nonsense. Incidentally, the page that quote is from is worth reading, an AdAge article on Coca-Cola’s internal research which shows that their diversion of budget to promotion in social media has had no impact whatsoever to sales.

One last one to blow you away.

The ability to develop inspired, right-brain solutions within a strategic framework of actionable intelligence is the creative currency of a data-driven age … and the real power of the Analytic Creative.

William Rosen, North America President and Chief Creative Officer, Arc Worldwide

What William? What?!

I can think of a few reasons why people use this kind of heavily worded marketing jargon:


To make themselves look intelligent to their peers, colleagues and clients. After all, its a cut-throat game in big agencies and multi-nationals, where you have to clamber over others to reach the top. Impressing the boss and client with BIG, MADE-UP words is one way to address your ambition.


There is a huge amount of change in the world as a lot of industries are shaken up by new technology. Marketing and its various practices are included in this. Early adopters of new technology are seen as movers and shakers, less likely to be thrown out in the cull when a robot replaces an onerous task, an online shop replaces retail big boxes, or something like youtube offers an alternative to broadcast tv. Nobody wants to be the bloke that didn’t jump on board the success express.


Building a wall of idioms, acronymns and double-speak creates an illusion of authenticity and expertise. Other industries use this sort of language too, notably lawyers, accountants and financial markets. Most of this is to hide the fact that lots of the things they do are very simple and giving a task a big word makes it seem less comprehensible to the ordinary person therefore justifying higher fees.

Surely though in order to make yourself understood it would be better to use some clear, plain language.

Here’s some of the more ridiculous marketing buzzwords currently doing the rounds:

‘SoLoMo’ – the blend of social, local and mobile.

‘Plussification’ – describes how people signed into a Google account will get personalised search results featuring pages shared with them on Google+.

‘Likeonomics’ – The idea is that people want to buy and do business with brands that they ‘like’.

‘Tradigital’ – is the fusion of traditional and digital.

Perhaps in another post we’ll build a marketing dictionary to decipher some of the more bizarre words. In the meantime, you can print out your own marketing jargon buzzword game at this site and play along in your next agency meeting.

‘Til then, if you want someone to talk to someone who uses ordinary language and knows what they’re doing, give me a call.