My six-year-old daughter is a pistol. Every evening at bedtime she says to me, “So, Dad, tell me what you did today.” She crosses her arms and waits expectantly.
I need a new (better) answer every, single, freakin’ night to keep her entertained. And to make sure she asks me again tomorrow.
With Fathers’ Day this weekend, I’ve been revisiting questions she’s asked during these bedtime chats. The questions are simple and have made me gauge success a little differently these days. It’s not only about whether consumers are connecting or are our clients’ needs being met, but also that I’m proud of the work I do and want to keep doing it everyday.
Question 1: Will you come talk to my kindergarten class about what you do?
Here’s how this one went down….
I’ve got to keep a class of 6-year-olds entertained for 30 minutes…without embarrassing my daughter – hey, I want her to think I’m cool!
What do kids like? Animals, mascots, cartoons.
What’s on my reel? Clydesdales! Awesome.
There was that time I put on a pig costume on a 90-degree day and sweated my ass off. Do I still have that video? Oh, thank God, I kept that.
Wait….that’s only two minutes of video. I need a LOT more. AAUGH!!
And so it went, culling through 20 years of work to find stuff that kindergarteners might find remotely interesting. Believe me, putting together that presentation was more nerve racking than any pitch I’ve ever made.
Know what saved the day? Swag. Thank goodness clients still spend on swag. T-shirts, stickers, pens – and especially bobble heads – are pure gold with 6-year-olds.
Question 2: Dad, did you do that campaign?!
Toughest focus group in the world? My daughter. I love showing her campaigns at bedtime. She sees things I don’t, still (thankfully) reacts to the big idea, and is brutally honest.
The absolute worst thing she’s ever said to me…“Dad, that’s totally boring.” Crusher. But she was right. It was boring. And deep down I knew it. Made me go back to the drawing board.
On the flip side, hearing her say, “Dad, play it again!” is music to my ears. Even better, having her run around the house singing the tagline over and over because she thinks it’s cool.
The funny thing I’ve found is that if I’m hesitant at all to show her a campaign, there’s probably something wrong with it.
She’s helped remind me of two critical keys to a great campaign – keep it simple, and do things in good taste. If it’s not appropriate for her to see, then why’d we do it in the first place? If she doesn’t get it, why’d we overcomplicate the idea?
Question 3: Can I come to the office with you?
Man, this was a toughie to respond to with immediate enthusiasm. My honest reaction?
Let’s just say my sense of order and cleanliness leaves something to be desired. Okay, okay…my office is a pigsty. I couldn’t have her see it in its current state, not when I constantly harp on her keeping her room tidy.
So what did I do? I cleaned and scrubbed the hell outta the place the next day. And then I scanned the place for things not appropriate for a 6-year-old.
Question 4: Can we watch “The Crazy Ones” together?
I love that show. (Hey, it’s my guilty pleasure…and it’s not “Real Housewives.”) So bummed they cancelled it.
Sure, “Mad Men” is perhaps more accurate with respect to the dark sides of our industry. I’d never watch it with my daughter, though. She’d demand I change careers immediately if we ever watched it.
On the flip side, “The Crazy Ones” was great. It reinforced for my daughter that her dad works with some quirky, likable people who make stuff. And even better, it spurred the best question of all….
Question 5: Dad, someday can we work together in advertising like that father and daughter?
Happy Father’s Day.