If there's one thing marketers know how to do, it's to make things sound better than they actually are. Consider a drink often requested by Paul Williams at Starbucks—that purveyor of infinitely customizable beverages: Iced, tall, no-shot Americano.

Even if you know how to decode Starbucks lingo, you might still be lost. So here's his explanation: "A

n Americano is a shot of espresso with water in it (It can be a tasty alternative to a typical cup of coffee). Ordering it: iced (with ice, that's easy), tall (that's a medium), and a no-shot Americano would be no espresso, just the water. So it ends up as a medium, iced water."


Williams uses his barista-stumping wordplay to set up an entertaining chart borrowed from The Bluffer's Guide to Marketing. It helpfully translates what your agency is really saying during those pitch meetings, and you might recognize doublespeak like this:

  • "It blew their minds in research" should be interpreted as "Consumers think the product is crap."
  • "It'll work in the press" probably means "They can't afford television."
  • "Look how we really build on your existing property" doesn't include the qualifier "But we had to level it first."
  • And "The Agency view is..." a nice way of saying "We don't agree."

Your Marketing Inspiration comes in the form of a question from Williams: "[B]y saying one thing, is your agency really meaning something else?"

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