Hitting the Pinnacle of Buzzwords

I freely confess to hating business buzzwords and jargon. Like David Meerman Scott and many others, I find the practice of repeating technical-sounding phrases in an effort to appear knowledgeable to be pompous and counter-productive.

It’s an over-leveraging of verbal resources. Yes, I went there.

Now, at the same time, I love a broad and deep vocabulary. Words like “obfuscation” (which means, if you’re not familiar with it, the use of words to obscure rather than clarify meaning). Obfuscation is a great word that actually nicely describes what buzz-jargon does.

I have found one company (which will remain anonymous) which has managed, over time, to establish a new benchmark in meaningless blather. Every trip to the well of this company’s jargon pool brings forth a new wealth of meaningless bloviation (look it up – another favorite vocabulary word). I thought I’d share just a bit from the latest press release, for your edification and amusement:

____________ today published a strategy pharmaceutical companies can apply to reinvent growth for established drug brands. Addressing the total context of change reshaping the operating environment, the approach shifts the center of gravity in pharmaceutical brand management, focusing on market collaboration and novel linkages to create new health and business value. Available for download through the _________ website, the strategic brief builds on the concept of ‘health ecosystem design’ introduced by _____________ as a new model for competitive strategy, regionalization and employer initiatives, and account-based sales to integrated delivery networks.
_____________ has pioneered a methodology for market strategy defined in 21st-century terms, an approach that enables an evolutionary leap in solutions for growth and competitive advantage. The firm was the first to introduce ‘marketing ecosystems’ as a framework to synthesize strategy, media, content and distribution platforms for in-line products.

Now, I ask you – do you have any CLUE what is being talked about here? Oh, and this company’s tagline now is: A New Grammar for Strategy. Enough said.

Lesson: talk about your business in plain English. Leave obfuscation to the pros….


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

7 Responses to Hitting the Pinnacle of Buzzwords

  1. Ian G. Lang says:

    I think most professionals have gone that way once or twice in the course of their careers. It’s part of the learning process I think.

    Maybe someone should introduce them to “Buzzword Bingo” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzzword_bingo

    “Why use big, long words when diminutive ones will do?”

  2. Lon S. Cohen says:

    Honestly, for years this type of jargon-speak actually limited my growth in business. I never understood what some people were talking about in Marketing meetings so I kept my mouth shut thinking there was some course to explain the complexities of business in an MBA program somewhere that I wasn’t privy to. Slowly, but surely, I realized that the people who spoke this way actually knew less than I did about the business. Now, I hear some people talk like this and I chuckle to myself. Someone I am very close to talks like this all the time when we talk business because he thinks it sounds impressive or he’s been infected by the hive-mind and I don’t have the heart to tell him how really ridiculous he sounds to me.

  3. Jeanne Male says:

    Steve, I’m wondering if this post was spawned by days of listening to conference presentations and bloviations – love that word!

    Hi Ian and Lon: Thanks for the chuckle Ian. Lon, I enjoyed your use of the word “hive-mind” – never heard it before. I’m wondering if the person that you’re referring to is over 50. If so, they may be a victim of a time when big words were valued as scholarly…and haven’t gotten the memo stating otherwise. Speaking strictly for myself, I would expect someone “very close” to me to clue me in on current thinking. I recently cut out an article from “Wired” magazine calling people that wear bluetooth ear devices, “tools”. I gave it to a friend (who wears one and considers himself cool) as a keep or toss FYI. It was safe coming from a 3rd party source. Then again, I’m the sort that would be grateful if a complete stranger told me that I had something hanging out of my nose. Yes, Steve – I went there.

  4. Hi Steve,
    It was really nice having a chance to talk with you at ePatCon. It was great meeting many other Tweeps, too.

    I get the feeling that I should not have titled one of my slides “Emerging Trends and BUZZWORDS”! I agree that the unnecessary creation of a new term when an existing term works just as well–and is understood by a much broader audience–is counterproductive. In fact, it’s usually an attempt to own the new term. Just to be safe, I think I’ll delete the word “buzzwords” from the title of the slide before I post it…

    For brownie points in my favor, did you notice that I used the word “obfuscation” during my talk?

    Finally, thanks for the photo you took & posted at the Tweetup. Usually, I don’t like to see pictures of myself. I think being surrounded by Silja and Ellen Hoenig raised the quality of the photo to my benefit!


  5. Sydney Rubin says:


    With all due respect, I feel you may be pushing the envelope with this post, so moving forward I hope you’ll do a bit more of a deep dive, a little more thinking outside the box, and then circle back with more innovative and meaningful strategic insights. But thanks for being so pro-active and keeping us in the loop.


  6. I would rather than periodontal surgery without anesthesia than reread that press release.

  7. Pingback: Pharmaceutical Brand Management - Topic Research, Trends and Surveys

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