The London copywriter jargon-buster: what everyone really means

By Mohd Aktar on Wednesday, 3 July 2013
Sometimes it’s just too easy to fall back on euphemisms and jargon. But what do some of our favourite terms really mean? 

Whether you’re a client or a copywriter, London is where you start using a whole copywriting patois that’s grown up within the M25. It’s difficult to know what anyone means sometimes.
Here are a few of the most used terms that mean something completely different…

“Person x has rotated off the project”

This is one that agencies use and probably shouldn’t. You’re working with someone at an agency and then suddenly they’re gone. Their email out-of-office is on and every time you call they’re not there.

Then you get an email from someone else you’ve never heard of. Your guy has been ‘rotated’.

Translation: Person x has been fired

“I’m just a bit frustrated by certain processes”
Your client has had enough of you and lets you know in a long email. One line that jumps out is that they’re ‘frustrated by the processes’.

You think on that for a while…

Translation: Being a part of this project makes me furious

“Close of play”
Your client lets you know the deadline is close of play. As it’s been pointed out before, it does make work sound more like playtime.
Translation: Any time before 9am tomorrow morning

“It doesn’t really flow...”
The king of vague feedback. You’ve had this comment from many clients and it helps nothing.

Translation: I don’t like it but I don’t know why

“This is a fast-paced project”
You’ve been warned at the outset that this project is going to be swift. But it doesn’t really dawn on you what that means.

Translation: We won’t have the time to brief you properly but we will be furious when you get it wrong

“This is an agile project”
In the same family as fast-paced, this one doesn’t make much sense until you’re deep in to a project.

Translation: We’ll keep changing our minds about what we want according to whichever stakeholder is shouting the loudest

“Deadlines are key in this project”

As if deadlines weren’t important in every project. But this one, your client hastens to add, is particularly reliant on meeting them.

Translation: We expect you to meet all the deadlines we set you but won’t deliver briefs or return anything on time ourselves

“The client went another way”


Translation: They hate you/your estimates/that tie you wore

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