A curious term

SimonGeneral9 Comments

Recruitment advert

I might be missing something, but what’s a “portable bike”?

A “non-portable bike” strikes me as a bit pointless really.

Sometimes marketers can get tangled up in the detail of their own language that they forget the true meaning of terms.

Via Marketing Week magazine.

9 Comments on “A curious term”

  1. Did you see Matthew Stibbe’s post from a couple of days ago about editing in adverts? (http://www.badlanguage.net/?p=399)

    Your bike advert is desperately in need of a good edit. Isn’t the second sentence rather obvious from the title and the fact this is a job advert?

    It is clear they need someone with first class communication skills (written and verbal being redundant here) to avoid 51 word sentences.

  2. Hi Heather – yes I did see Matthew’s post – I had that in the back of my mind when I was scanning through Marketing Week and spotted this gem.

    The ad definitely needs major attention, both for the copy and the design.

    If I were a marketer looking for a job, I’d wonder if the recruiting company was one I wanted to work for if they were happy to put out adverts like this.

  3. I would venture a guess that they are talking about “folding bicycles.” A friend who cycles everywhere purchased one last year for (portable) travel purposes–so far she’s taken and used her bike in London (UK), Barcelona and Chicago.

    This web page shows some models:

  4. I think you’re probably right (and I did work it out myself in the end..!).

    The point for me is that here’s an example of where business or product-specific terminology (aka jargon) doesn’t make sense when used out of context (in the recruitment section of marketing magazine in this case).

    “Portable bicycles” probably makes sense to most cycling enthusiasts, but not most marketers.

  5. (Playing devil’s advocate) one could argue that the company wants to hire a marketer that does already understand the term “portable bike” (maybe even uses a folding/travel bicycle), so that this ideal marketing executive can generate ideas on how to further enhance and expand the product and champion the brand…. after all, it’s an ad for a marketing position, not a consumer ad for the company’s end product.

    (And I concur that it is a rather unattractive ad.)

  6. That’s a fair point Judy, although to me that approach does restrict your recruitment target audience somewhat (to marketers who know about cycling!).

    I’ve always thought that the best marketers can apply their skills to any market – even one they don’t know inside out.

    That said any marketer worth his salt and looking for a job should take the time to research terminology he/she doesn’t understand – most things are usually quickly explained thanks to Google.

  7. Sadly, I decided to take Simon at his word and Google “portable bike”. And, at http://www.nycewheels.com/portable-bike.html, I found the following:

    Portable bikes come in many forms. A portable bicycle might be a small-framed bike like a BMX. The portable bicycles that truly earn the ‘portable’ in their names, however, are folding bikes. A fold-up bike is a portable bike through and through. They are specifically built for their portability. They range from moderately portable (see the Reach and Xootr Swift Folder, perfect for storage in the apartment, office, or the trunk of your car) to extremely portable (see the Brompton, which is so portable that it can be taken absolutely anywhere, like a brief case or a larger hand bag.) Portable bicycles are attractive to all riders, and as such you’ll find them in a variety of styles. For example, the eZee Quando is both an electric bike and a folding bike. It gives the best of all worlds: foldability, electric assistance, and portability.

    The OED informs portable as easily movable, convenient for carrying – so there, you go.

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