TMRW SG | Blog | Gen Z Slang In Advertising — Slay Or Nay

Gen Z Slang In Advertising — Slay Or NaySome things are just wrong and sad, Gen Z slang in ads being one of them.

As with all demographics throughout history, the younger generation has a lingua franca that sets them apart — Gen Z slang.

It is an amalgamation of languages, with words derived from African-American vernacular, gaming jargon and even simple acronyms. Organically grown and steeped in cultural references and inside jokes, proficiency demands comprehending years of lore, memes and an excessive amount of time spent online. And in some sense, it separates the girls that get it and the girls that don’t. #IYKYK

There is no other way to describe it than simply being ‘chronically online’, its place being only on social media platforms and that’s just fax, no printer. Which is why Gen Z slang always looks out of place in advertisements.

And I get it, it makes sense to speak the language of the demographic you’re trying to reach. It increases your chances of being noticed, expanding reach and visibility among Gen Z consumers. But it always seems a little contrived. One might even say, they ate but left all the crumbs.

Many ads have attempted to incorporate keywords like “slay” and “serving”. However, it’s almost like an old person trying to fit in with the cool kids — it’s giving sad, and also, cringe.

While it certainly grabs the attention of consumers, it gives the younger generation a visceral, bodily reaction of the ick and it just doesn’t hit the same. Periodt.

This approach just doesn't pass the vibe check. Gen Z slang is a system of references that belongs to a specific demographic, within a specific setting, and on a specific medium — and no, ads are not part of it. Not trying to gatekeep, but the co-opting of an organic language and using it for sales is intrusive to say the least.

There exist more effective and respectful ways to connect with the youth without being mid. Rather than alienating consumers with a careless string of random words, brands can and should strive to establish genuine connections and BFRFR for once.💅

A glossary for those above the age of 30 which also includes other must-know words to keep up with the times.

The girls that get it and the girls that don’t
TikTok slang for being ‘in the know’
Acronym for ‘if you know you know’, same sense of exclusivity as above.
They ate but left all the crumbs
A play on the phrase ‘They ate and left no crumbs’ which means doing an incredible job.
To succeed in something amazing.
Usually used about appearance but not necessarily beauty, someone who is ‘serving’ simply looks incredible.
It’s giving
Another way to someone or something emitting a particular vibe.
The ick
The feeling of being grossed out for no particular reason.
Period with added emphasis.
Doesn't pass the vibe check
A vibe check is used to refer to coolness or attitude, to evaluate someone.
To exclude others and decide who does and doesn’t have access to certain information.
Below average or low quality.
Acronym for ‘be for real for real’, often used to call out another person’s nonsense.
Acronym for ‘greatest of all time’, often used to refer to someone incredible.
Glow up
A makeover or transformation from good to bad.
A combination of ‘stalker’ and ‘fan’, used to describe being obsessed but not in a creepy way.
Simply means win.
Big yikes
Used when embarrassed, about oneself or in relation to someone else.
Means I’m going to.
No cap
To be authentic, truthful.
Used to hype someone up if they’re looking good.

Joyce Ng