Buzz kill: CEOs, execs choose their words and phrases to ditch in 2022

Some words and phrases do go in and out of fashion - thankfully most useless terms find their way out of conference rooms and into the basement skip by close of business. Mumbrella's Andrew Banks looks at which terms are likely to get the flick in 2022.

We’ve seen our fair share of COVID-19 variants in 2021, but just like a stubborn strain that refuses to move along, the media, marketing and advertising industries continue to be plagued with annoying and redundant buzzwords.

Mumbrella asked a host of CEOs and executives across a variety of marketing and media industries to tell us their least favourite words and phrases they hear all the time around the traps and wish could be decommissioned in 2022. How many do you recognise and agree with?

Luke Brown

Luke Brown

Luke Brown, CEO & founder of Affinity:

AI – AI is the most overused and over-claimed term used in martech.

And guess what? Under scrutiny, it’s not actually AI.

Invariably at best it’s a case of over-hyped machine learning kit that won’t “solve all your marketing problems”.

So, please stop using this term unless it’s a genuine case of “open the pod bay doors HAL” type of intelligence that you’ve proven out through application in the real world.

Brain dump – another term I loathe. Hopefully for obvious reasons. Yuck.

Pete Bosilkovski

Pete Bosilkovski, ex-CEO Clemenger BBDO Sydney:

I’d remove words like lockdown, borders, restrictions.

These aren’t marketing buzzwords, but they have completely dominated marketing discussion, process and decisions.

Joan Warner

Joan Warner, chief executive officer at Commercial Radio Australia:

I have a few!

  • you’re on mute (not a word, I know!)
  • socialise (sharing information)
  • new normal
  • pivoting (businesses)
  • learnings

Sam Buchanan

Sam Buchanan, MAICD, JP, general manager at IMAA – Independent Media Agencies Australia:

  • “Fireside Chat”…unless you are actually by a fire, it should not be used. I would even accept a large heater.
  • “Leaning in” has been dangerously overused by some tech companies over the past few years …..unless the other person is speaking quietly and you can not hear them or you have a back issue, it’s unacceptable.
  • “Pivot” – Used in an estimated 80% of all webinars during 20/21. This should be rested for the entire 2022 period.


Mark Coad

Mark Coad, chief executive officer at IPG Mediabrands, Australia:

  • 2021 Clubhouse Leader: “You’re on mute”. Good riddance to that, for 2 reasons. Firstly, if you’ve not found the mute button by now, you probably never will. Secondly – a far lesser reliance on screens in our personal interactions and meetings.
  • 1st Runner Up: Unprecedented. When events like this happen once every 100 years – most of the consequences will be unprecedented. That’s a given fact, not a superlative!
  • 2nd Runner Up: Inflation Mitigation. This is a procurement-led term that translates to “poorer media quality in a high demand environment”, and those trying to cling to that in a market growing by 23% possibly need to recalibrate.
  • 3rd Runner Up: Pivot, or “to pivot”. Pretty much everyone pivoted. What even is that? Some actually pivoted twice – does that mean they are back in the same direction as they started?
  • 4th Runner Up: New Normal. Which one is it? It cannot be both…is it new, or is it normal?
  • 5th Runner Up: Flatten the Curve. Just stop it! It we did that too much, it would simply be a line. Do we want a curve, or a line?


Jordan Taylor-Bartels

Jordan Taylor-Bartels

Jordan Taylor-Bartels, MD of Magic:

  • Data(science): As overused as coriander. Using Google Analytics doesn’t mean you’re good with data, and a pivot table isn’t data science.
  • Workshop it: Too many chefs are spoiling the pudding; let’s call it how it should be “here’s my idea, love it and tear it apart at the same time”.
  • Day-trading media: You’re not on Wall St, and your team are not optimising any accounts daily…and they shouldn’t be.


Michael Miller

Michael Miller, executive chairman at News Corp Australia:

Let’s remove “snackable content” from our brand marketing plans.

Like fast food, it may sound good at the time, but it doesn’t meet the brief, leaves a bad taste from the experience, and you won’t rush back. Short is rarely sweet or long-lasting.

Richard Skimin

Richard Skimin

Richard Skimin, managing director, News.com.au & News Corp eCommerce:

In 2017, we answered everything with “correct” now in 2021 it’s “100 percent”.

I’ll also add that “omnichannel” and “hyperlocal” are nonsense words.

“Omni” means “all” in Latin, so you would expect Omnichannel Marketing to refer to marketing across ALL channels. But, of course, it doesn’t. Instead it refers to unified customer experiences across some channels.

What is more “local” than “local”? Hyperlocal! And what does hyperlocal mean? Content targeting small geographical areas, which sounds local to me.


Richard Brett

Richard Brett, CEO Ogilvy PR:
There’s no doubt that there are a lot of specific phrases and words that we use in this industry which are incredibly useful and accurately describe a concept, approach and technique.

But there are ones that we use that just creep into our lexicon and just replace perfectly good existing phases.

I would love to see sayings that we use to indicate that a person will come back to someone – such as “touch base” and “circle back” disappear, or ones that try and express the fact that we need to talk or do more: “deep dive”, “unpack” and “lean in” are all time for retirement.


Alicia Malmur

Alicia Malmur

Alicia Malmur, marketing manager at Samsung Electronics:

“This is one I feel strongly about: ‘We’re all in this together’.

Brands need to stop saying this and stop communicating about COVID-19.

It makes sense for some brands, but for most, consumers see right through it as a ploy to exploit the virus for the benefit of the brand and bottom line, not for the benefit of society.

Vuki Vujasinovic

Vuki Vujasinovic, founder & CEO Sling & Stone:

I’d say two related words that should be removed from communications are “thrilled” and “excited” – as in, “We are excited/thrilled to announce that…”

I’m pretty certain it’s obvious you are thrilled or excited to announce this positive bit of news from your company. So all good to be happy about some news you are announcing, but be more direct and to the point — the story will land much better without the guff.

Imogen Hewitt

Imogen Hewitt, CEO, Spark Foundry:

‘Pivot’, ‘new normal’, ‘do more with less’, ‘circle back’, ‘synergies’ and ‘low-hanging fruit’ need to go.

In a sentence, it would read something like this: “We need to pivot towards the new normal where we’ll do more with less and continuously circle back to assess synergies and identify the lowest hanging fruit.” Also known as, shoot me now.


Elgar Welch

Elgar Welch, CEO and business lead Streem:
Mine would be – not sure this is industry-specific, but – “I think you’re on mute”.

I’m done with pointless 30-minute Zooms that should take 30 seconds in an office 😉


Sharon Gray

Sharon Gray

Sharon Gray, co-founder & CEO at The Spec Sheet:

“We do have a chuckle when we see specs where there is no way possible that you could make the ad unit, eg Audio-enabled GIFs.

At a stretch ‘spreadsheets’ maybe worth a mention – They may not quite die in 2022, but we and other tech platforms will get close to minimising their role in day-to-day agency life as we move towards more connected systems.

We would love to see the spreadsheet move back into the world of finance.

Helen Besgrove

Helen Besgrove

Helen Besgrove, senior brand manager at The Wine Collective:

In general, I quite like buzzwords and am guilty of using them myself. Buzzwords are fine, as long as everyone in the room understands what you are talking about. Use them as a quicker way to mention a concept.

BUT, buzzwords become annoying and meaningless if they are not backed by substance, or others in the room don’t understand them.

For example: If you say you are a “customer-centric” business, you better hope every single one of your employees truly understand what this means, and is actively living and breathing that (I used another buzzword!) it. From your tone of voice through to things like website design, navigation, product offering, packaging and so on.

“Let’s take it offline” is a buzzword I think we can start to rethink. Sure, it is a good way to tell someone the discussion is off-topic or not relevant to all present. However, considering most of us are online 100% of the time with WFH still very much a thing, this benign comment has the risk of coming across quite dismissive.

I suggest we need to be clearer in our intent here “that’s a good point but I think it will be more relevant to discuss at this time, with these people. Let’s make that happen.” Then bring conversation back to group topic.


Nickie Scriven

Nickie Scriven, CEO, Zenith Media Australia:

  • ‘Attention Economy’ – already overused and the bandwagon is at capacity
  • ‘Cookie-less future’ – surely it’s time we ate the cookie and moved on
  • ‘Agility’ – right up there with the need to ‘pivot’

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