Jargon disruption: A ‘marketing buzzword jar’ for thought leaders and innovators

If you’re an agile disruptor in the brand space — one that’s pivoted to target millennials with impactful authenticity — then Whit Hiler would like a word with you. Several words, actually, all of them jargon.

Hiler is creative director at the Kentucky agency Cornett, and he’s on a mission to kill buzzwords. Beginning next month, Cornett will be selling its new  “Marketing Buzzword Jar” to satirize — and combat — the toxically obfuscating buzzword culture. Tongue planted firmly in cheeky, Hiler is pitching the jar as “a swear word jar but with a much higher return on investment.” The concept is simple: Every time an employee drops a marketing buzzword, they have to put $1 in the jar. (The word “millennial” is worth $2.)

“Marketing Buzzword Jar” — priced at $19.99 — comes with a list of more than 500 marketing jargon and abbreviations, including “authenticity,” “empathy,” “brand experience,” “POV” and “thought leader.”

“It becomes confusing sometimes. People use the word ‘brand film’ when we are actually making a YouTube video. And every brief we came across has ‘millennial this’ or ‘millennial that,’” said Hiler. “So we want to entertain the industry and people in the business who are struggling with buzzwords.”

The idea came about in May of last year when Cornett employees joked that people had to constantly educate themselves on new marketing terms. But the idea got pushed to the side for a while and the agency didn’t start actually promoting “Marketing Buzzword Jar” until yesterday.

For the time being, Cornett only created a website for the buzzword jar featuring satirical product reviews like, “A disruptive force in the boardroom” from a chief technology ninja and “A game changer for agency storytelling” from a chief transmedia storyteller in residence.

“It’s just part of agency culture,” said Hiler. “When you feel sick of it, you make fun of it.”


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