D&AD launches platform to demystify industry jargon

The free tool, devised by FCB London creative team Amy Bland and Sacha Burke, allows people to learn from and contribute to an ad industry dictionary

Graphic of the words 'ad vocab' in a speech bubble, and the headline 'a visual guide to ad industry jargon' on a purple background

Entering the advertising industry can be an intimidating enough experience on its own. Being surrounded by cryptic industry terms and acronyms can only make it feel more isolating.

“Advertising is full of jargon which not only creates a barrier for people accessing our industry but can also lead to awkward onboarding experiences for new starters,” says D&AD Foundation director Paul Drake.

To alleviate some of these frictions, D&AD and FCB London have launched AdVocab – a new platform that aims to explain industry vernacular to newcomers (or indeed anyone who’s puzzled by the meaning of some frankly obscure phrases that circulate).

FCB London art director Amy Bland and copywriter Sacha Burke came up with the tool, having been inspired by their own experiences of joining the industry during the pandemic – a time where it felt particularly bothersome to ask more senior colleagues for explainers.

The initial entries were put together by the team, but will continue to grow by crowdsourcing entries from people as they encounter new terms. The definitions are accompanied by illustrations created by designer Dante Attuoni, also at FCB London.

“The industry has its own vocabulary that no one teaches you – you can study advertising but you’re not going to pick up all of the language at uni,” the three creatives explain. “Things move so fast and there are bigger questions than, ‘what does burn mean?’. We started making our own list of words and then realised how much it might help other people, so they don’t feel as silly as we did asking for a definition of something they may not understand.”

While it’s hoped that younger team members feel confident enough to ask colleagues these things, there’s a clear benefit for those who want to learn about subjects that aren’t necessarily going to come up at their workplace.

AdVocab launched with a stand at D&AD’s New Blood Festival in London, where winners of its 2024 talent showcase will be announced on July 4.