Deciphering meaningless marketing headlines

Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 11 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 25-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.

I can’t say for sure that marketing people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about; they do seem to know — or pretend to know — what each other is talking about. And they do have their own ever-expanding special proprietary language. But take their words outside of the marketing bubble, and nearly everything they say and write seems devoid of meaning.

All of these recent headlines are from marketing/advertising business-to-business websites. We begin with lines from “Campaign” (a U.K.-based group of websites), considered a “leading authority” on marketing. I have never read one of their articles to the end, primarily because they require you to register.

The first line of copy on this post (that’s all you get without registering) reads: “…it’s worth remembering that brands need to be prepared to take a side.”

Why is that “worth remembering”? Never mind. “Take a side” … like Nurture vs. Nature? Shorts on men? Brands are on the “side” of “making money,” and that’s every brand’s “purpose,” I’m pretty damn sure. Also, I think a comet or a nuclear war would be a more “ultimate” “disruptive” force in the marketplace.

I read all the words on that fake chalkboard, and I’m no closer to knowing what the “marketing theory of everything” is. Do you know? Liars. That’s like searching for the one answer that answers every question ever asked. I don’t think there’s ever been a more meaningless phrase in the history of any language in the universe.

First line of copy: “It is often said that data-driven marketing is the future of marketing…” Oh yeah, by whom — other than data-driven marketers? Getty and Shutterstock returned zero results for “data-driven ad model.” Google Image was no help either.

Apparently Campaign thinks the “data-driven ad model” looks like a nebulous blob full of tetrahedrons with connected points, at left. Have fun trying to pull a good ad out of that mess. Maybe the data-driven ad model is the Flobot (right)? Maybe it doesn’t “actually” exist (ding-ding-ding)?

What the actual fuck is “content activism?” Serene protesting? And what is the “tyranny” of “always-on?” A perpetually cleaning dictator Roomba? I know what “brands” are. The rest of that sentence can go eat a bag of peckers.

What does make us human? Our thumbs? Our souls? Our underwear? Our inability to understanding marketing? I don’t know who “Richard Larcombe” is and I refuse to Google him, but his judgmental glare seems to say, “I know something you don’t [he doesn’t], lower-rung marketing people, and I’m not telling you.”

“The Drum” is another UK marcom/ad site. “Creative optimal rate” … CREATIVE OPTIMAL RATE … It sounds like a chant from “1984.” Get your co-workers together and say it repeatedly out loud with your right fist in the air. Seriously, marketing gurus, what does it mean? The answer is “absolutely nothing,” isn’t it? So it’s not a “motherlodeof anything.

Shit, there’s that now-murky “P” word again. If Facebook says it won’t slow down, why should we doubt them? Keep in mind that you could literally replace “purpose-driven marketing” in that headline with “nonsense-driven nonsense” and it would mean the same thing. (That phrase is also a good description of the “purpose” of Facebook.)

“Holistic Customer Journey Strategy” does not sound “incredible,” IBM. It sounds like the mission statement of a death cult. (See “Heaven’s Gate.” Did you know they had a logo? It’s hideous. But considering that and the Nikes, they were very marketing savvy.) If you fed that phrase into Watson, it would shut off, take a journey into the nearest woods, and melt itself.

Lastly, take a look at seven confounding words via the website you’re reading. I have absolutely zero idea what’s being said here. What is the “feedback loop”? A new cereal that tastes like nothing? “Big Reach of Big Data” sounds vaguely phallic, as in “length with girth.”

Roundup request: If you’re a marketing person, especially a “digital” or “data-driven” marketing person, could you please, moving forward, stop waterboarding, denailing, and electroshocking the English language? Thank you in advance.

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