Jargon-Heavy Memo Elicits Collective ‘What?’ From Condé Nast Employees

A memo sent out Tuesday by Condé Nast CEO Charles Townsend may have announced the “structural realignment” that would propel growth and success for the company. It may have emphasized the “importance of this mission.” What the memo actually did, however, was prompt a wave of confusion — from people inside of 4 Times Square and out.

The memo reads like completed game of Mad Libs: Corporate Buzzword Edition. To many Condé employees — who presumably have some ear for crisp prose and correct diction, considering the magazine titles they help put out — this is a bit distressing. 

“I’m not clear on how building layers of SVPs and executives ‘streamlines’ the operation,” a source inside Condé Nast told The Observer. “What we need is empowered editorial people and smart, fierce publishers. Not more suits making ‘strategic’ decisions. I mean, come on.”

The New York Times‘ David Carr vented his frustrations over the memo at Media Decoder. “We all read it and have no idea what he was talking about,” a Condé Nast employee told Carr. “It’s the kind of communication where there are no verbs and every other word is some kind of buzzy techno jargon.”

WWD’s Memo Pad also noted the overwhelming “huh?” that came in response to the dense, cumbersome wording and the cringe-inducing repetition of words like “brand.”

“The consensus was: What was that?” said one Condé Nast insider, while another wondered, “What is centricity?”, referring to the memo’s underscoring of Condé Nast’s “commitment to consumer centricity.”

Carr supplemented his take on the mumbo jumbo by running the thing through the Gobbledygook Grader, which assigns a block of text a number based on its readability. The memo earned a 76, which Carr says indicates it “borders on indecipherable.” 

nfreeman [at] observer.com | @nfreeman1234

Jargon-Heavy Memo Elicits Collective ‘What?’ From Condé Nast Employees