Do You Speak Marketing?

Well, do you? I don’t and I suspect most of us didn’t even realise there was such a language. But there is and it’s thriving. Driven by marketers who believe we all live in their world of insights, 'positionings', line extensions and above all else English language jargon.

Let me demonstrate what I mean with the photo above, which I snapped outside Basel airport. It’s a crop from a bank ad but the key bit of ‘marketingese’ is clearly visible. I’m talking about the word ‘sustainable’.

It’s a really in-word, isn’t it? And quite rightly, as we are truly in an unsustainable position as a civilisation. Especially in my area of interest – packaging. But sustainability has been high jacked by marketing and turned into a buzzword. To be thrown in to every ad. Chucked into every chairman’s speech. Weaved in to the annual report.

What could they mean by sustainable Swiss private banking? That bankers grow on trees and provide nourishment for the planet? That banking as a species regenerates itself naturally. That its part of Natures grand plan?

The word seems meaningless in this context but I could imagine the client telling the agency that their customers want to be greener and advertising text should reflect this desire.

Sustainability joins a long list of other blameless words purloined by the marketing fraternity for criminal purposes. Like innovation and above all, passion.

Poor passion! I defy you to go to a trade show and not find that half the exhibitors proclaim on posters that they are passionate about what they do. Marketers are apparently the most over-sexed species on the planet. And the most inventive as passion is usually linked to also being the most innovative. So keep your eyes open for the first ad or pack, which claims the company is passionately innovative about sustainability.