Taking the bull by the horns
If you haven’t already had a look at the brilliant tumblr blog, ‘agency wank’, it’s a fun way to pass a few minutes.
It’s a showcase of the very best in pretentious claptrap promulgated by agencies from around the world.
It’s sobering stuff. Tragically, the agencies responsible are also using it to separate unsuspecting clients from their money. More fool the clients, perhaps.
Agency onanism was satirised supremely last Christmas by Quietroom:
And I was reminded of agency tosspottery just last week. Two words did it. ‘Brand Engineering’. Here’s the full, ’12-inch extended remix’:
I was disappointed to see that, in this instance the ‘agency wanker’ was an otherwise respectable organisation: Interbrand.
It’s a classic case of using language figuratively in an obtuse, unhelpful way. ‘Engineering’ has a pretty precise meaning. So to use the word to express something that isn’t engineering seems a bit like calling an elephant a balaclava.
It’s especially problematic when you’re using the term engineering not to mean engineering in the context of a car brand. For a tiny moment when I first read the words: Global Brand Engineering Director Of Nissan United , I really wondered if it was something to do with engineering.
Oh no. Of course it wasn’t. It was pretentious agency flim- flam. It irked me because it’s exactly the kind of tosh that undermines the value of brand marketing. When read by clients, it has the potential to make folk in the agency world look like foppish, pretentious nincompoops who trot out a load of baloney.
I’m a brand consultant and that isn’t what I do. “The truth, well told” is a maxim I cherish. Using the word ‘engineering’ to mean brand strategy is too metaphorical for my liking. It’s hyperbollockal.
Of course, there are agencies out there with poncy, self-regarding names like Goosebumps, Goose Eggs; Dingleberry or Little Brave Cauliflower. And there are terms like ‘brandscaping’ and lame, cod-scientific tools and models called things like ‘Brand Energiser’, ‘Wayfinder’, ‘Compass’ or ‘Navigator’. And I’m sure many of us have come across a brand onion, brand pyramid or brand temple in our time.
But anyone who knows what they’re doing in this business usually tries to slice through the bullshit and unearth real, meaningful stuff. They know how to make the most of whatever a business has to offer without resorting to bare-faced lies or inane gobbledygook – either to sell their services or to answer a brief.
Agency wank is especially problematic for those of us in the business of brand consultancy. Personally speaking, it makes me want to sing at the top of my voice: “Shot through the heart and you’re to blame! Darlin’, you give bra-aaaand a bad name!” And that can’t be good for anyone.