What Are They Really Saying In Meetings? Part 2: The Creatives

What Are Those Creative Types Actually Saying?

Advertising creatives

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In part 1 of the “advertising translator,” we looked at the ways clients often cover their real thoughts with phrases that are a little less egregious. Today, it’s the turn of the creative department.

For those of you in creative departments thinking “no way, only the clients say one thing and mean another,” you’re not being completely honest. In fact, it’s quite ironic when you realize that in the communication industry, almost everyone is actually saying something different that what they’re really thinking.

When creative first enter the advertising and design world, they have no filter. They soon learn, however, that completely honesty, especially in front of the client, is a career-limiting trait.

Over the course of their careers, and with a lot of coaching from the creative director and account team, creatives find ways to talk to clients and account executives that mask their true feelings and intentions.

Here are 15 of the top phrases that creatives use, and what they actually mean.

1: “That’s an interesting thought, I’ll mull that over.”
Translation: “I hate that suggestion. Hate it! I’ll never do that. But, for the sake of being nice, I’ll pretend I gave it serious consideration, and tell you it just didn’t work.”

2: “I need at least two weeks to do that.”
Translation: “I can probably turn that out in a week, or less. But I have other things on my plate, and I can also look like a genius if I deliver ahead of schedule.”

3: “I think you’re really going to like this idea.”
Translation: “You’re going to hate this idea, it’s way outside of your comfort zone. But, by setting it up this way, I’m hopefully softening the blow.”

4: “Now, this idea could be a little outside your comfort zone.”
Translation: “You’re going to hate this idea, you’re not brave enough to do it. But, by setting it up this way, I’m hoping reverse psychology will dare you into buying it.”

5: “I spent weeks crafting this.”
Translation: “I crashed this out at the last minute, hopefully you think it’s good enough.”

6: “Thank you for all the insights you shared with us in the briefing.”
Translation: “Your insights were meaningless. We learned absolutely nothing from them, and threw them in the trash the second you left.”

7: “I really like this product/service.”
Translation: “I’d never buy this.”

8: “I don’t think a focus group is going to be helpful at this time.”
Translation: “Focus groups kill great ideas, and they will absolutely destroy this one. Why are you suggesting this nonsense?”

9: “I really appreciate your input.”
Translation: “I really wish you’d just let me do my job, and not try and flex your feeble creative muscles on my ideas.”

10: “That’s a funny story.”
Translation: “I’ve heard funnier final words from a prisoner in the electric chair.”

11: “I carefully considered what you said in our last meeting.”
Translation: “Most of what you said was pointless, and the rest I twisted around to meet my own creative agenda.”

12: “I have a question about the brief.”
Translation: “I really don’t have anything new to add, I just want to sound like I’m paying attention.”

13: “How far can we push this?”
Translation: “We want explicit permission now to cover our ass when we produce ideas you will reject for being too big, too scary, or just too different.”

14: “I look forward to showing you what we come up with.”
Translation: “I can’t wait to see the looks on your faces when you see the stuff I present next time.”

15: “I see a lot of potential for doing something really breakthrough here.”
Translation: “I’m going to do everything I can to win an award on this one, even if it means going off brief or ignoring the proposition.”