Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why a little swagger's a good thing..

Liam Gallagher - model for graduates? Picture via freschwill. Usual rules, etc.

This was sort of inspired by something I wrote on Ad Grads and a bit of thinking, so bear with me.

Despite claims of having eclectic tastes in music, I do find myself listening to very similar stuff after a while - there's a lot of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Smashing Pumpkins and Manics on there; check my Last FM out.

And perhaps it's no surprise that indie music, and obviously, Britpop has had a bloody big influence on my musical tastes - I was 11 when What's The Story came out, after all.

Of course, being that age, and having that album as one of my first 'proper' musical purchases meant that I fell head over heels in love with the image conveyed by the music - the links with football, the look, the way of singing; even the North/South divide that went on at the time - to this day I still can't understand how Blur were ever seen as being a rival to the mighty Oasis. Truly, What's The Story was the album of my generation - I don't think I know someone of my age who can't sing along to at least one song from that album, right from start to finish.

Now, I grew up, and shed a lot of this. And, being honest, I think Liam Gallagher's a bit of a plonker. But there's still something in me which makes me want to buy their next album, however rubbish it may turn out to be.

And I was thinking about this the other day, asking why this is. Well, barring happy nostalgic memories of that time, I think a lot of it is to do with the unbridled confidence and swagger that fills that album and Definitely Maybe before it.

Now, I've written about passion in another post before this, but this, to me, is somewhat different.

Passion, to me, denotes wanting to do the best you can - and it's an admirable trait in whomever possesses it. It's why, I think, advertising tends to be a young profession, because when the passion dwindles, there's only so interested you can be in selling various products/services, and having to be 'up' for the next pitch or new business.

Now swagger is something which, if you believe the reports about Generation Y, my g-g-generation has. And it's not, necessarily, a good trait to possess in the eyes of many. I've written about this before, about how we, as a generation, are bloody demanding.

Whilst not being an pompous, swaggering arsehole is obviously very important clearly pace of change is increasing, and brands are being made (and broken) on the basis of what they believe in. And damn, gen Y knows what IT believes in - its own opinions, and ability to take matters into its own hands.

And, though I'd never suggest that people who read this blog turn into little Liam Gallaghers, the point of this post is simply to suggest that music like this is what an awful lot of my generation were bred on; it's a damn good cultural signifier as to how they'll behave. And I think marketeers and advertisers would have a better time of things if they realised that they, and their products and services need to have a little bit of an Oasis-like swagger, a declaration of intent if they want to be around for years to come.

This declaration of intent is very similar to what Mark says in Herd - people, and brands should begin by stating what they believe in.

Don't believe me? Well, consider this. Be Here Now was the biggest selling album in UK chart history. While not the defining album What's The Story was, it's telling. If you can get people to believe in swagger, you'll do very well indeed (of course, the cautionary tale to all of this is that critically, it was a massive flop - it seems that believing the hype about your own swagger is bloody dangerous).

I'll leave you with some lyrics from D'you Know What I Mean. They are telling...

Look into the wall of my mind's eye
I think I know, but I don't know why
Questions of the answers you might need

Comin' in a mess, going out in style
I ain't good lookin', but I'm someone's child
No one can give me the air that's mine to breathe

I met my maker, I made him cry
And on my shoulder, he asked me why
As people won't fly through the storm
I said listen up now, we don't even know you're born


moi said...

I agree.

You should read 'Pies and Prejudice'. Stuart Maconie sums up really well why Mancs have such a swagger and why there's bitter rivalry between Manchester and Liverpool.

Will said...

I think I will - thanks very much for the recommendation.

Anonymous said...

You should definitely listen to some music by John Betjamin, Will - it would really help.

I'll soon work out how to put some on the intenret and then you'll see.

Gavin Heaton said...

Excellent connection between "swagger" and "passion", Will. In advertising there is a large focus on image -- but perhaps this is misguided. Image may only be a manifestation of "swagger" ... and in that case, "brand swagger" may be an important way of understanding not only the spirit of a brand but also a guide for activating it.

TeamSmithy said...

Never liked Oasis...

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