Monthly Archives: December 2013

Every year, at services of lessons and carols, or in renditions of Handel’s Messiah , I hear a version of this sonorous Old Testament passage: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’.”

What is a doctor’s job? Is it: a) to diagnose illness; b) to treat patients; or c) to persuade other doctors to prescribe a brand-name pill? To those answering c), here is an additional question: do you work for a pharmaceuticals company?

Lucy Kellaway

This is the last day of my Golden Flannel award blogs, and I want to thank you for all your fine, discerning judging so far, and to ask you to rule on two final categories.

The first is for the best (worst) rebranding of a common object. It is one of life’s grand mysteries why marketing people are so keen on turning something that people need and want into something entirely baffling, but it seems they are.
Countless heroic rebrandings took place in 2013, of which the finest three were: Read more

Lucy Kellaway

Some readers may remember Martin Lukes, the late CEO of a-b glöbâl, who tragically died three years ago when skydiving as part of a team building exercise.
The jargon-spouting executive, who wrote a column in the FT about his life and works, was most famous for coining the term “creovation”, part creativity and part innovation, but more blue sky than either.
Since then there have been a thousand imitators, who have taken two perfectly good words and put them together to make an ugly monstrosity that means nothing at all. General Electric was the first to copy Martin Lukes when it created a whole movement based on something called “Ecomagination”, which was pretty good, though not quite as creovative as the original.
This year’s entries are as follows:

Iconicity.  Read more

What struck me most forcefully in the profile of Jack Ma, Financial Times person of the year, was not the Alibaba founder’s youth, his love of martial arts, or his against-the-odds subjugation of eBay, once the dominant force in Chinese internet auctions. It was this: what a failure he was.

Andrew Hill

As the FT’s Milan correspondent in the 1990s, I used to be a regular visitor to Palazzo Mezzanotte – the headquarters of the Italian stock exchange – an imposing 1932 building that its own website describes as “one of the architectural symbols of the Fascist era”. Given that history, if I were running Moncler, I probably wouldn’t have used this photo to publicise the first day of trading in my company’s shares – unless, of course, it is a deliberate Benetton-style attempt to shock.

 Read more

Lucy Kellaway

Today’s prize is for a person, not for a word. It is awarded to a big-name CEO who in the course of 2013 has shown outstanding dedication to raising the jargon bar across all touch points.

Last year’s Chief Obfuscation Champion was John Chambers at Cisco who wrote the following lines in a memo to staff “We’ll wake the world up and move the planet a little closer to the future” – thus managing to be both banal and grandiose all at once.

This year there are four strong contenders for 2013 COC. I think my favourite is the last, though as I had never heard of him before, I’m not sure that he qualifies. Please tell me what you think. Your vote counts. Read more

Lucy Kellaway

The next category in my Golden Flannel Awards covers grammatical atrocities including “nerbs” (nouns masquerading as verbs) and “vouns” (verbs masquerading as nouns). These have long been a mainstay in the jargon space – think “to task” and “to action” and “to architect” – but I hope you will agree with me that this year’s shortlist is even better than usual. Read more