What those marketing terms really mean

Let's face it, there's a lot of bullshit in advertising - ad guys say things just to please the client while the client throws a lot of jargon around, apparently just to befuddle the agency. Well it's time for a new, collaborative age in which everyone says what they really mean so that the project can move forward and the team can achieve what everyone wants: an armful of awards and a big increase in sales.

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of bullshit in advertising – ad guys say things just to please the client while the client throws a lot of jargon around, apparently just to befuddle the agency. Well it’s time for a new, collaborative age in which everyone says what they really mean so that the project can move forward and the team can achieve what everyone wants: an armful of awards and a big increase in sales.

To that end, JWT Toronto gives us the real definitions of some common marketing expressions.

Let’s take a step back

This idea stinks so bad, you can’t stand being so close to it.

Let’s look at this from the 50,000-ft. level

Get me on the first flight outta here.

Out of the box

If you’re still using this expression, you’re way too far in the box to ever get out. So please, stop saying this. You don’t really mean it

Pushing the envelope

A variation on ‘out of the box.’ Except instead of a big, roomy box, you choose to put your agency in an itty bitty envelope. Let’s be honest. We know you’re not really expecting much. Clearly you want to see some pushing on the envelope. But for heaven’s sake, don’t even try to break out of it. Oh, no. This envelope is sealed. And you, my friend, are on the overnight delivery to mediocreville. Besides, even if you did manage to break out of the envelope, you’d still find yourself stuffed in the bottom of the proverbial box.

Hard-working ad

You can spot these ads from another area code. They’re designed to work even when the sound on the TV is off and you’re in the kitchen looking for something to eat before Murder, She Wrote comes back on. Yes, the hard-working ad is based on a formula that’s been so overused, it’s suffering from chronic fatigue. There’s a reason these ads work harder. They have to. They’re so full of 800 numbers, enormous logos, and calls to action, people typically tune them out before they can ever get to the first product mention (usually within the first three seconds).

Above Norm/Below Norm

While most marketers believe these terms to be research benchmarks rooted in complex scientific formulas and mathematical equations, the reality is quite the opposite. These numbers are actually generated by a guy named Norm who is locked in a small room. All of the research firms use him. He’s very old and very wise. You see, Norm is shown all of your boards and animatics. If he says: ‘I could’ve done that,’ your results will come back ‘Below Norm.’ If Norm looks at your idea and says: ‘I wish I’d done that,’ then your idea will score ‘Above Norm.’ So instead of writing ads to a wide and clearly undefined target audience, perhaps we’d all be better off writing ads to a single target audience: ‘Norm.’

Dial up the branding

This vague direction can often leave creative teams scratching their heads. But the solution is actually quite simple. Just look really closely at any script and you’ll find that there actually is a dial. And on that dial is a label that reads, ‘branding.’ All you have to do is crank that little dial way over to the right. Because surely the creative team left it set on ‘low.’ Damn creatives. (Oh, and don’t let your agency fool you – the dial does go up to 11.)

Make the pack shot ‘pop’

Quite simply, when a client asks for this, they’re expecting you to use up every millimetre of space on the screen for the product shot. Oh, and don’t forget to transfer it so brightly that when it’s projected in the dark, the logo will be permanently burned into your corneas. New technologies are in the works where a pack shot can pop so much, it will actually cause the glass on your TV to break into tiny shards. And as those shards will come flying at you so quickly, the last thing you’ll remember before you die…is the client’s pack shot.