The Most Annoying Buzzwords

  • Jun 19, 2007

We're halfway through 2007, but we haven't made much progress following the recommendations of the Creative Group. At the end of 2006 they polled 250 marketing and advertising executives to create their latest list of the most overused buzzwords.

Of course, they probably should have polled other departments to find out what they thought were the most overused buzzwords from marketing and advertising departments (we do generate a good number of these terms). I've edited down their list to create the absolute worst of the worst of over-used, annoying buzzwords and added my commentary. Granted, many of these words have legitimate uses, but their overuse has been so dramatic, it is probably a good idea to limit their use so as to not drive co-workers to the brink of insanity:

Buzz the bee

Outside-the-box
This phrase should only be used as a joke. It made their past list too. It should go into the hall of fame - or is that hall of shame?
Synergy
If you're using this phrase, I'm willing to bet you're probably wearing plaid pants and a bright bow tie.
The big idea
Okay, if you actually said this, chances are you're not the one with the big idea.
ROI
While ROI is an important business measure, marketing and advertising professionals have abused this acronym so badly, I'm actually starting to think we should institute a law that says you can only use this term if you possess a permit that proves you understand what it means and are actually capable of generating positive ROI.
Paradigm shift
If you're still using this term, be advised, the paradigm already shifted sometime in the 70's. You actually missed it.
Integrated solution
Are there really non-integrated solutions? This one is too meaningless to be spoken.
Customer-centric
If you're still over-using this one, odds are you have a Pets.com sock puppet on your desk.
Make it pop
Unless you own a time machine, there's no need for this one.
Break through the clutter
If this is the best you can come up with, clearly, you are part of the clutter.
Take it to the next level
On second thought, perhaps the level you are on is most appropriate.
Free value
Huh? You lost me.
Low-hanging fruit
As annoying as this one is, I admit, I've been guilty. I try to use quick hits, which was probably a finalist for this list.
It is what it is
And the plural form, They are what they are. I like this, but only when used for humorous effect.

The Creative Group's previous list had a number of gems, including some on the latest list and a number of classics that some managers and consultants just can't stop themselves from (over) using:

  • At the end of the day
  • Solution
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Synergy
  • Paradigm
  • Metrics
  • Take it offline
  • Redeployed people
  • On the runway
  • Win-win
  • Value-added
  • Get on the same page
  • Customer centric
  • Generation X
  • Accountability management
  • Core competency
  • Alignment
  • Incremental