all marketers! Get ready to disrupt (yup, that’s one of them) your
digestive tract with marketing clichés that will make you puke. These
marketing buzz terms are polluting creative minds everywhere – and there
might even be scientific evidence linking these cringe-worthy
catchphrases to Millennials’ intense feelings of “I don’t want a desk
job”. It’s certainly possible. However, for everyone else, can we make a
As fellow marketers and creative professionals, let’s
kindly retire (or extinguish) these irritating phrases so we can all
evolve past this “noise” cluttering our industry. Are you with me?!
let’s be clear. “Disruption” is really more of a business term. It
describes a market condition that takes place when an existing market
collapses and a new one emerges. It’s actually very similar to
“Disruptive Innovation” which happens when a new market comes to
fruition entirely. Uber might be a great example of both – depending on
how you look at it.
However, when this “Wall Street” phrase ended
up leaking all over Madison Avenue, “disruption” and “disruptive” became
overly used, watered down terms that essentially started to mean
Certainly “Creative Disruption”, might have a place, as
it refers to exposing business model flaws and promoting big changes in
consumer behaviour (in the creative sense). However, I can’t help but
wonder whether some Agency Account Director just throws out “disruptive”
terms just to win some big account. I mean, come on. Disrupt what?
Isn’t it our job as marketers to change consumer habits and get noticed?
2. Growth hacking
I realize that “hacking” is supposed to mean “coding” in this sense
(not cutting down), but this phrase sure does sound like an oxymoron to
Popularized by Sean Ellis and other techies in the early
2000s, the term was meant to describe non-traditional ways to achieve
growth through experimental marketing strategies and emerging
technologies. READ: this is also a glorified way of describing underpaid
“bootstrappers” (oh, but with equity of course!) trying to unlock the
key to “crowd culture” (yawn).
Perhaps growth-hacking was a
relevant, meaningful term 15 years ago, but not today. Most marketers
are expected to (magically) achieve growth with technological brilliance
and creativity because it’s our job. Sound like a lot of pressure?
Well, welcome to marketing.
Oh no-no. If your ears
have not been scarred yet by this irritating term (in what seems like
“slow-mo”), it means “Social-Local-Mobile” as if this is some genius
concept or secret to being relevant. So, please, don’t use this
4. Actionable Insights
Actionable? As opposed to “Well, we learned something today, and we’re not going to do anything about it”.
mean, am I missing something? Where does one look for “actionable
insights”? Is this something people need in addition to regular
insights? For example, if I’m comparing landing page performance in The
Marketing Manager, and I see one campaign outperforming the other, I
think I know what action to take. Do you?
5. Seamless Integration
you work in the tech sector, I bet you are emphatically nodding your
head “yes”. This godawful term is about as common and meaningless as
your vendor saying “we have an API” when asked “does your product do
In fact, let’s just throw in some puzzle pieces to truly
visually convey (because we’re idiots) that our software seamlessly
integrates (puke) with boredom and clichés. After all, we need to
“scream” that each piece of our ho-hum app actually functions when
interfacing with some other random technology.
And while this
style of tech marketing seems awfully common (more like ubiquitous), to
me, it feels rather ironic. After all, I’m pretty sure that puzzle
pieces have jagged, noticeable edges. Don’t they?
is no such thing as “seamless” integration. It takes work and
maintenance for two tools to “talk” to one another – and you (the
consumer) get to pay for it. There you have it.
6. Turn-key (and everything “key” in general)
face it. If someone offers you a “turn-key”, “off the shelf” solution,
does it make you open your wallet? Personally, it makes me turn into a
glazed-over zombie. Why? Because even if something is difficult, a brand
will either never admit it or up-sell you the “turn-key” solution
(rigor mortis setting in).
Now of course, I understand that this
term was once synonymous with “effortless”. Nevertheless, it has since
evolved into a useless adjective that lazy marketers use to describe
some blah-blah-blah with blah-blah-blah. That being said, I propose we
lock up this useless adjective (pun intended).
In fact, as long as
we are stuck on cliché doorway analogies, can we please also stop
saying [anything]gate to describe a conspiracy theory? Maybe I’m being
unreasonable, but I would love it if people could coin something new.
After all, the key (cringe) to creative marketing is to explain concepts
meaningfully. That’s why “turn-key” is no longer descriptive; tell me
WHY something is so effortless – in an engaging, concise way. Does this
sound difficult? Well it is. That’s why creative people have jobs.
7. Content Is King
Yawn. “Content is king” and “(whatever) is queen” sounds like a big, gay party – but everyone’s really bored with it.
no mystery. Live sports and fan favorites like “The Walking Dead” keep
Cable television in business. After all, those Cable bills are
expensive! Perhaps that’s why this cringe-worthy, irritating phrase
simply won’t die; decision-makers in the media universe are ignoring the
fact that modern consumers are stingy with their time. How else can we
explain this endless sea of boring content?
Maybe I’m wrong, but here is my understanding of modern consumers (who all have built-in A.D.D)
content = I will only tolerate ads if they cannot be blocked. And if I
really hate ads, I will PAY to have them blocked – so please stop
forcing these painful pre-rolls and what feels like 10-minute commercial
blocks on me.
BORING content = I hate you for wasting my time –
also known as “get out of my in-box” syndrome while emphatically
Assuming that the media gods disagree with me, I believe this painful phrase will continue to exist.
of “content is crap”, marketers make up stupid terms like
“advertainment” to seem like they’re solving some really big cultural
problem – but they’re not.
“Advertainment” is essentially just an
annoying way to explain “branded content”, product placement or flat-up
fantastic marketing in disguise. I understand the concept, but here’s
the problem: if you call your own work “advertainment”, you sound like a
Don’t get me wrong – some marketers have managed to
make advertising very entertaining, including Red Bull with their
adrenaline junkie videos, and AMC with their Walking Dead and Mad Men
apps (also known as “gamification” – which theoretically could make this
Nevertheless, does “advertainment” really solve a problem? I guess so, but can we please not call it that?
all seriousness though, if you are a marketer that somehow figured out
how to move product without annoying people, congrats. This is an
achievement. I’m serious.
9. Ecosystem (to describe everything)
we a bunch of ants stuck in a science class diorama demonstrating
seamless integration (see term #5 above)? Silicon Valley seems to think
We hear this word a lot, especially when some “thought leader”
(yawn, could also make this list) is ill-prepared to answer a tough
question in a meeting.
“Well you see [insert CEO name here], our
next step towards changing consumer behavior patterns is to move the
social conversation to the Internet-of-Things ecosystem,” said the
slightly hungover marketing executive recovering from last night’s
Look. We’ve all been there, but the use of the word
“ecosystem” is starting to feel out of control. Somehow, everything can
arguably be an ecosystem, including that Chia Pet they sell in Walmart.
Do you see what I mean? Germination. Photosynthesis. Whatever. And it
all brings me back to where I started: my seventh-grade science class.
10. Snackable Content
this phrase make you want to vomit? Personally, I find it nauseating,
but here’s some “food-for-thought”: the term “content consumption” is
actually the mothership concept that spawned this ugly-duckling buzz
term. All it means is that time-starved consumers prefer concise
headlines, bullet points, easy-to-read lists (unlike mine), and pretty
much the opposite of heavy, homogenous-looking text. Makes sense.
Nonetheless, isn’t it amazing how unappetizing this trite phrase sounds? I actually almost puked (in a good way) when Grant Higginson of Welby Consulting tweeted it to us during our “Tweet the most annoying marketing buzzword to win a drone” contest.