Tech jargon, boulders and other jive

Tech jargon, boulders and other jive

Hate marketing-speak? So does Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian. Anyone who commits marketing or advertising for a living ought to read his blog.

Bob’s a successful and savvy advertising executive who owns his own agency in San Francisco. He’s also a delightfully grumpy old fart who loves to snicker at the Emperor’s missing bloomers, as well as the foolishness of the people watching the parade.

Like me, Bob gags at what passes for B2B copy these days, especially the “cutting edge, state of the art, scalable” baloney favored by technology companies big and small:

“One way we can tell that the marketing and advertising industries are in dire straits is by listening to the language. From the HP website:

“… (HP’s) collaborative approach is tailored to a customer’s ecosystem to create adaptive infrastructures that use leading software products and architectures and leverage HP’s own expertise in the creation of adaptive infrastructures.”

“Spend time at a conference, read a trade publication, listen to a presentation and it soon becomes obvious that speaking plainly and clearly has become anathema to most marketing practitioners.”

As a copywriter and former technical writer, I confess I have been forced to write that kind of crap on any number of occasions. But in my defense, the clients flatly rejected my initial drafts — the ones written in plain American English, easily understood even by CEOs. The kind of everyday shirtsleeve English you and I speak to each other.le coeur

Can you imagine meeting someone new, asking what they do, and have them say, “Oh, we create adaptive infrastructures…”? Of course not. Nobody really talks like that. Not even the guys who wrote it.

I have a theory. See if you agree. I think vague, jargon-filled copy are like those giant boulders in old TV westerns. They’re really big, they slow down your enemies … and they’re really great to hide behind.

PS: After a month-long, self-imposed hiatus from blogging, Bob’s and his blog are back together. To be honest, I think he was considering a divorce, but settled on a trial separation instead. Since he’s pretty skeptical about the business value of social media, we’ll see how long he lasts. Enjoy his curmudgeonality while you can, kids.

Creative Commons License photo credit: colinedwards99

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