Current Issue #488

The Furphy Report: Government desperately searching for next 'innovative' buzzword

The Furphy Report: Government desperately searching for next 'innovative' buzzword

As the appeal of buzzwords ‘innovation’ and ‘vibrancy’ wane with the public, State Government is trying to determine the next ambiguous, yet reassuring term to attach to all big policy announcements.

“They were real work horses for us, ‘vibrancy’ and ‘innovation’,” a government PR executive tells The Furphy Report. “You could really just announce anything and badge it as ‘vibrant’ and people would lap it up. Then when it became obvious that that word didn’t actually mean anything and that the economy might tank, we switched to ‘innovation’ and, boom, everybody thinks things will be fine.”

Government sources say that the ‘innovation’ well of good will is almost dry, and that recurring brainstorming sessions have been set in staffer calendars to find the next out-of-the-box idea.

“Every Thursday morning we wheel out the white board, butcher paper and highlighters to come up with ideas,” the source says. “The key is coming up with a term that sounds like good times are on the horizon and the economy won’t crater, but that is ambiguous enough to not actually promise anything concrete.

“We have a few words on the boil so far. ‘Unorthodox’ and ‘artisan’ are playing alright in the 30-50 demographic, but pleasing millennials is harder. We’re sort of scratching our heads now and you can’t put emojis in a press release. ‘Agile’ and ‘nimble’ were our back-up plans but Turnbull blew them out of the water last year, too.”

Commentary recorded from a recent focus group test where ‘innovation’ was displayed in government messaging showed that participants reacted with increasing negativity to the term. Written responses included, ‘does this mean I’m going to lose my job?’, ‘must build an app for my cats’ and ‘jobs and growth?’.

One participant, speaking to The Furphy Report on the condition of anonymity, says that the phrase makes him feel like his work as a florist was insecure, and expressed a worry that “some crowd-sourcing bastard with an app is going to make it so I can’t sell tiger lily bouquets at a premium.”

Another member of the same group says that ‘innovative’ messaging makes her regret her own life choices, and fills her with a sense of dread for the future.

“Anytime something is badged as ‘innovative’ I regret not studying computer science over bloody accounting at uni,” she says, “My work’s all numbers, so if it’s not outsourced in the next couple of years, some fucking robot will step into my job.”

If the government does not find an appropriate replacement for ‘innovation’ in the near future, it is expected to revert to traditional language and demonstrating the value of policy, but this is “a last resort,” according to the government PR executive.

“It’s way easier to convince people the sky isn’t falling with those words than with numbers and proof,” he says. “Going back to case-studies and all that is the absolute last option.”

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