Too Many Marketing Words Obscures Pearson’s Users’ Message

By Jason Menard

You know the old adage about what you should call a spade? Well, run that tool through a marketing department and it’ll be time to call a spade an efficiency-increasing earth adjusting implement.

And in the case of a Toronto Star article that ran today discussing the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, the fog created by biz speak can run the risk of creating a tool that ends up doing the wrong job for its users.

Listen, I don’t mean to pick on Pamela Griffith-Jones, the chief marketing and commercial officer for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, but – let’s be honest here – she sounds less like a real person and more like a marketing cyborg.

Well, at least that’s the case with an article appearing in today’s Toronto Star about the GTAA’s goal of making Pearson Airport more friendly for travellers.

It’s time to break out the buzz words and marketing speak!

  • Reference to pain points? Check.
  • Calling travellers guests? Check.
  • Talking about creating a lasting impression? Check

Oh, but it gets worse. There are phrases like “one of the things we want to do is make the invisible visible” and resorting to euphemisms like “value” parking spaces. We all know that “value” means cheap. Just say it. We’ll appreciate it.

So let’s just get down to the diminutive, penetrating devices crafted from a highly polished alloy of copper and zinc here! (Or, if you will, brass tacks). It’s an airport; it serves a purpose. And by wrapping yourself in this cloak of business terminology and long-term vision plans, you run the risk of obscuring what’s really important: and that’s the fact that you’re an airport!

You see, if the goal is to make an airport a “destination,” you’re already setting yourself up to fail. Worse, when you start saying things like “… one of the things we want to do is make the invisible visible,” then you run the risk of focusing on the unimportant issues and missing the real items that travellers want.

It’s an airport – a way station between two points. Travellers want to get in and out as quickly as possible; they want to avoid the long, gloved fist of the customs officers; they want to avoided being herded like cattle; and they’d like to buy a sandwich for under $20.

Run an idea through the marketing wringer and you’ll be amazed at all the fluff that comes out: superfluous lighting, over-refined lounge areas, and other “experiential” opportunities that take away from the overall goals of an airport, which are getting you someplace, hopefully with your luggage intact.

Sure, a Bentley’s nice and all, but I’d rather ride around in a fully functioning and equipped Gremlin than a high-end vehicle missing a wheel and with a propensity for turning left for no apparent reason.

In the end, the best way to determine what you really need for your business is to ask your customers – after all, they’ll tell it to you straight, without the biz speak varnish.

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