What Are They Really Saying In Meetings? Part 3: The Big Boss

How To Know What The Boss Is Asking For

Big Boss
The Big Boss. Getty Images

In the first two parts of the translation series, we looked at what the clients are really saying, and what the creatives are actually trying to express. Now, it’s the turn of the big boss. The head honcho. Numero uno. Basically, the person at the top of the food chain who is responsible for the massive amounts of time and money that are being spent.

This is not the creative director. This is the man or woman in charge of all those clients that come to meetings at advertising and design agencies.

He or she doesn’t usually come to the initial meetings, but may attend pitches.

However, when the time comes to pull the trigger on a project, this person is basically God. At the drop of a hat, they can green light a campaign, or send it hurtling into obscurity. Here are 15 phrases that the big boss often says, and what those phrases mean.

1: “Have you considered doing something like this?”
Translation: “Do this. Do exactly what I am saying right now. Don’t do a variation of it. Don’t give me a fresh spin on my idea. Do what I have just asked for, exactly as I described it, or I am going to be really pissed off.”

2: “I’m not feeling it.”
Translation: “I have no idea how to express myself. I know I’m not sure how I feel about it, but right now I’m on the fence, so I’d rather say no.”

3: “I like it.”
Translation: “I might like it, I might hate it. I don’t really know how I’ll feel tomorrow, or a week from now, and I’m the boss.

So don’t hold me to anything.”

4: “I love it.”
Translation: See 3.

5: “I hate it.”
Translation: “I’ll probably love it once our competitor does it, and ask for something very similar. But right now I don’t have the balls to go with it.”

6: “I’d like to see something more simple and focused.”
Translation: “I am not about to blow all of my money on an idea like that.

I’d rather do something for half the price, and spend the rest on a boondoggle.”

7: “Let’s think outside of the box here.”
Translation: “Copy something that won an award at the One Show or D&AD. I’ll never buy it though.”

8: “I’ve had a change of heart.”
Translation: “I haven’t had a change of heart at all, I always thought this was going to happen. The odds of me buying a campaign like this were 0.05%. I just wanted to put your through the ringer for a few weeks to test your resilience.”

9: “It doesn’t look like an ad.”
Translation: “I have no vision, and cannot see something that has never existed. Once our competitor does it, I’ll get it. And then I’ll want it.”

10: “It needs more brand presence.”
Translation: “Make the logo bigger. A lot bigger. Use it a few times if you can.”

11: “I’m not sure. [Johnson], what do you think?”
Translation: “I’m putting you on the spot, and you better give me the answer I’m looking for or you’ll never live it down.”

12: “Who’s awful idea was this?”
Translation: “Run and hide. I may have approved this initially and forgot about it. It may even be my idea. But I’m not taking the fall for it, and if you say it was my idea, you are so fired.”

13: “It’s too creative.”
Translation: “It’s not screaming a phone number and website address four times in a row.”

14: “It needs to work harder.”
Translation: See 13.

15: “I was expecting something more exciting.”
Translation: “Hey, I like to see incredible ideas, even though I almost never approve them.”