What they say: We’ll regroup and come back to you with formal feedback.
What they mean: We’d like to get off the phone so you can’t hear us tear your ideas to shreds.

What they say: We want to go big.
What they mean: We’re doing a banner ad that will run once on LinkedIn at 3 a.m.

What they say: Our brand is passionate about the environment.
What they mean: We have one product with recyclable packaging.

What they say: This print ad needs more diversity.
What they mean: Exactly one person of color, please.

What they say: We don’t want to look as if we’re pandering.
What they mean: This ad doesn’t have enough white people.

What they say: Yes!
What they mean: Probably not.

What they say: We want to appeal to Gen Z.
What they mean: You young people learned TikTok in school, right?

What they say: You might have to get creative.
What they mean: You have twenty-four hours and three thousand dollars to make this brand of oven cleaner go viral.

What they say: We like the direction you’re taking this!
What they mean: Try literally any other direction.

What they say: Let’s cut down the copy a little.
What they mean: From now on, instead of words, you have to use wingdings.

What they say: Our brand supports women.
What they mean: Our brand team of mostly white cis-gender males would like one organic social post for International Women’s Day.

What they say: We need an agency that can be scrappy.
What they mean: Our multi-billion-dollar global brand would like a Fincher-esque quality production, but we need you to write, direct, and produce it yourself on an iPhone in your three-hundred-square-foot studio.

What they say: We want to connect with our customers on a deeper level.
What they mean: Our Twitter sucks.

What they say: Innovative!
What they mean: We don’t get it and will make no effort to get it.

What they say: This is so creative.
What they mean: I just threw up in my mouth a little.

What they say: Let’s circle back Monday.
What they mean: We’d like you to keep going in circles all weekend until you come up with something else, because that was a total mess.

What they say: Thank you for all of the great thinking.
What they mean: You’re fired.