(By Bob McCurdy) I heard this comment recently from Pizza Hut’s Chief Brand Officer Marianne Radley on Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast: “We needed to be more confident, we needed to have a little bolder presence, not be so apologetic, take more chances, be a little bit riskier.” This dovetailed a few days later with an article written by Avi Dan, an experienced agency executive and consultant who wrote, “Advertising has become a business of cubicles and ‘pizza Fridays.’ If we want to bring back the talent, we must first bring back the swagger.”
Marianne Radley spoke about needing more confidence and a bolder presence; Avi Dan wrote about needing a little more swagger. Thought there was a bit of a parallel between their comments and radio. It becomes quickly apparent whether people behind any medium are motivated, proud, confident, or overly deferential, timid, and uncertain. Swagger is defined as “walking or behaving in a way that shows you are confident.” Confidence convinces — it is difficult to persuade anyone of anything without it. Clients can read confidence in our eyes and body language. A little more swashbuckling swagger from those of us in the radio industry might serve us well as well.
You immediately notice in sports whether a team or player has swagger by the way they carry themselves. Same when someone walks into a conference room. Those with swagger give off an aura of confidence, know they are good and are confident they can handle any situation, question, or challenge. Swagger is being confident but not over-confident. Respectful but not boorish. Respecting all but fearing none.
There’s a difference between swagger and bluster. Bluster is loud and inflated discourse that is employed to command an unjustifiable amount of attention and evade the facts. The magazine and newspaper guys might need to bluster a bit. We in radio don’t and have every reason to possess the swagger which comes from believing bone-deep that we’re representing a dynamic medium offering clients world-class marketing solutions.
I recall a very senior agency executive saying to me that many in the radio industry with whom she interacted were defensive about the medium and suffered from an inferiority complex, often spending more time knocking down other media channels rather than building up their own.
Swagger is doing the opposite. Swagger is presuming we belong at any media and marketing solutions party and then effectively telling “our” story. Swagger comes from knowing that we are selling an advertising vehicle that remains extremely effective. Swagger comes from being a student of our industry and marketing. Swagger comes from having a deep understanding of our media assets and the best way to mobilize them for maximum impact. Swagger comes from being a lifelong learner. Imposter’s resort to bluster. We needn’t.
Radio is intimate like Twitter, conversational like Facebook, and can produce humor and outrageousness (in your mind’s eye) like YouTube. We have personalities who play important roles in listeners’ lives, whispering in their listeners’ ears daily. Our clusters’ reach 30%, 40%, 50% of every living soul within hundreds or even thousands of square miles that comprise our MSAs; we have dozens of studies that prove radio’s ROAS (anyone selling radio should be intimately familiar with these studies and be able to explain them in layman’s terms). Our daily reach of 70+% is unchanged. Our TSL is rock solid. We are DVR proof, we can combine the reach of radio with the targeting capabilities of our digital assets to generate cutting-edge, cross-platform marketing solutions. We reach people closest to the point of purchase and we reach the light TV viewer more efficiently and effectively than TV does.
Respect all but fear none. Our marketing solutions and ability to generate results for our clients takes a backseat to no other ad vehicle. The way an industry sees itself affects its future. A little swagger is probably not be a bad thing.