Ready for some straight-talking?

Mar 14, 2017

Tony is our head of planning. He has a few thoughts about marketing jargon.

When Marketing Week wrote about jargon being a ‘major career killer’ recently, the searingly honest piece struck a chord with straight talkers everywhere.
As an agency that prides itself on getting to the point – communicating as clearly and simply as possible – we know the value of good, old-fashioned plain speaking.
Whether we’re speaking to clients or broadcasting a commercial brand message, clarity is always the name of the game.
Used well, language is one of the most powerful tools we possess but when it confuses rather than enlightens, well, we’re all left in the dark.
So why do so many marketeers insist on getting bogged down in business speak or reeling off relentlessly clunky jargon?
The honest answer is that for some people, adopting deliberately obscure language is a way of covering ignorance – a defensive attempt to sound more authoritative and informed than they actually are.
And while that might sometimes be effective in the short-term, it’s usually only a matter of time before these failings are uncovered.
As a team, it’s something we actively guard against. Straight talking is one of our core agency behaviours, a way of communicating that informs all of our working.
One small but significant example of this is the way we approach creative briefs. We begin by asking two key and very direct questions:

  • What do we want people to think (as a result of our activity)?
  • What do we want them to do?

These questions are far from unique to us, but providing straight answers to these straight questions helps us identify challenges and shape our creative responses.
The question can be developed further, to ask, ’what do we really want real people to think and do?’ prompting us to always consider the needs and reaction of people rather than consumers.
That isn’t always easy. But by seeking to do so, we remind ourselves that our activity has to work in the ‘real world’ – rather than in the rarified and often meaningless realm of acronyms, jargon and marketing bluster.