Monday, 1 May 2017

Corporate Fluff

Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times is one of my favourite columnists. One of her specialities is to roast companies that spew out meaningless bullshit in their communications and press releases. She even hands out annual Golden Flannel Awards for the worst corporate gobbledygook.

She's at her best today canning Mondelez (The Oreos to Cadbury company). The company's marketing head quit and this is what they had to say about finding a successor

" Our search for a successor will focus on finding a digital-first, disruptive and innovative leader who can build on Dana’s legacy and mobilise breakthrough marketing in a rapidly changing global consumer landscape"

Every word is a cliché and the sentence says absolutely nothing other than mouth inanities. Does it make you any wiser who they are going to hire ?

She has , over the years, mocked at meaningless drivel, quoting such outstanding examples as these

From Burberry - "In the wholesale channel, Burberry exited doors not aligned with brand status and invested in presentation through both enhanced assortments and dedicated, customised real estate in key doors"

Or this from E Bay - "We are passionate about harnessing our platform to empower millions of people by levelling the playing field for them"

Have you stopped to think about the nonsense that is shovelled each day. Infosys is doing an "orderly ramp down of about 3000 people", ie sacking them.  Citibank was "optimising the customer footprint across geographies " ie, er firing people. What about grandiose words for mundane things .  Speedo's swimming cap is a "hair management solution", another's aluminium doors are "entrance solutions" and Siemen's healthcare business is "Healthineers".

We ourselves mouth such fluff often - We want to touch base . We are moving forward. We are solutioning for a client. We are mitigating risks by risk management. We are at a "workshop" where somebody is droning through 200 slides and the rest are supposedly paying attention. We are tele commuting.

How about some good old plain English for a change. Something the Queen would approve of. Declare the next week as a fluff free week. Speak in simple English. If you cannot, try Gurmukhi ! A language where fundamentally jargon and flowery language is impossible.

A passing note to American readers. I know the English language is strange to you, but you may want to try and learn it !!


raghavendra kotla said...

Welcome back Ramesh, happy to see you back. I used to check the blog once a month, to see if you resumed blogging. Hope you had nice time while working on the social enterprise. May be you should blog on that ☺.

Sriram Khé said...

Speaking of "fluff" ... I am reminded of an old stinking joke ...
oops, I can't write that here because I know American and not English ;)

Raviraj H said...

Finally glad to see you coming back Ramesh.

Speaking/ writing simple is the key to the success nowadays.

I learn a lot about corporate stuff and building brand via listening to business podcasts.

I suggest you should also try some.

Anonymous said...


Welcome back Ramesh, nice to read your blog again. Totally agree on the fluff. The co i work for now is full of this sort of fluff & jargons. I was just blown away when Kellyanne conway said "Alternate Facts" instead of plain lies.

Ramesh said...

Hey thanks so much. Touched that you checked all the while.

Ramesh said...

Of course, you don't know English :)

Ramesh said...

Hey thanks. Oh God; not that lady. Alternate Facts completely boggles the mind.

Deepa said...

What? No one is impressed by creative composition? That's an essential skill set as an auditor; actually as an accountant too. :D

Ramesh said...

Shhhh. If your bosses read it, you are in trouble young lady :)

Kalpana K said...

People think they sound smart using jargon in their emails .. i mean doing right click and looking up synonyms for alternate word ..

Ramesh said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes, there is the idea of sounding smart by using jargon. But we also have become so used to it that we mindlessly mouth inanities.

Rads said...

I just came back from a meeting titled "Grooming Party x.y.z vol2" and I actually went to the guys desk and asked him what the hell it meant and apparently it was a planning meeting for a future release x.y.z and since it was the second meeting he called it vol 2 (i wish i had some weird simley expressions here). So yeah I really totally agree with you. I don't get a lot of this trendy corporate / marketing terminology which everyone seems to like using a lot and I do think Americans should try learning some simple English. But unfortunately this jargon is loved and preferred by everyone and this is what sells and I find myself obliging and learning it so I don't look like the "odd man out".

BTW the DCM INDIA bot above LOL.

Ramesh said...

Good Lord ' Grooming Party Vol 2 ????? That deserves an award.

Redefine your objective as the "odd girl out" and you'll suddenly find everybody else copying you !!

Yes, the stupid spammers are a pain, but I am steadfastly holding on to keeping the comments thread wide open and deleting the spammers when they come.

The Million Miler said...

Aha! good to see you back.

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