What it's really like to take your kids to work at an agency

Keating and the kids (not a sitcom)
Keating and the kids (not a sitcom)

Keating is co-founder/co-CCO at Fancy and mom of Jack and Lulu Timoney (who are exploring alternative career options outside of advertising).

Like many special "days" offered up by society as an exchange for the other 364 where the issues go unnoticed, avoided, or worst of all, ignored, every year on the fourth Thursday of April we "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work" and introduce them the coolest, funniest aspects of advertising. But what if we showed them our real jobs? Can you imagine?

First of all, when would you start the day? The moment the alarm goes off? In the shower? Everyone knows you get great ideas in the shower. We’d have to tell our kids to make sure that whatever they were doing (brushing their teeth, waiting for the bus, eating cereal, etc.), they’d have to be reserving a bit of brain space to be thinking about the client, and some creative way to build a relevant and motivating connection with their consumer.

Once you get to the office, find a place to sit. Pop earbuds in everyone’s ears so you all can ignore the cacophony of the "creative" open office environment. Time for status! Help the kids learn time management by gathering the whole team, spending an hour talking about the work you have to do, and therefore end up with an hour less time to actually do it.

Next, present the work to the client. Teach the kids which is the mute button and that red means no one can hear you, but green means they can. This is definitely a lesson to learn young.

Email 101: The Sisyphean task of emptying the inbox. This would also be a good time to teach them the hazards of the <Reply All> button, and that sometimes some things are better said without your boss or the client on CC.

And just try to teach anyone about concepting. It’s where the magic happens and it’s impossible to explain how. An art director and a copywriter sitting in a room (if they’re lucky, the "collaborative" open office often means you’re outside looking for a Starbucks), staring silently or talking about anything except the brief. It’s less fun than watching paint dry and probably slower. Remind the kids that getting nowhere is part of getting somewhere. Remind yourself, too. Then show them your favorite place to take your mind off it all with a coffee, or a candy, or depending on what round of creative development you are in, a tequila.

Go back to the room, squeeze your brain to come up with something, anything, to present to the creative director at 3:30.

Remember you haven’t had lunch, and wish you worked at Facebook where food is ubiquitous. Dig the emergency power bar out of the bottom of your backpack. Wonder why every day is an emergency. Give the power bar to the kid because you’re not a jerk.

3:15. Come up with an idea. A good one. It’s funny. You and your partner have never thought of anything funnier. You nailed it. The kids love it. Show it to the creative director and watch it die a swift death. Tell the kids it doesn’t hurt. It does.

Start over.

But first, complain. About the creative director. The account team. The client. Your partner. Yourself. Just go there. Then come back. Show the kids there are always more ideas.

It’s 5pm. Time to go? Not quite. This is not "Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work HALF Day" after all! It’s time for another meeting. To talk about preparing for the meeting in the morning. A meeting about a meeting. Time to learn what meta means, kids.

6:30 check Instagram. 7:30 look up. Tell the kids it was research. Expect to hear the same thing from them tomorrow.

PIZZA. Is it lunch or dinner? Who cares?

Swear to finish the deck before leaving. Challenge your partner to an arm wrestle or dance-off to decide which is more important the comma or the font (author’s note: this is a true story). Give up. Teach the kids to pick their battles (and change the deck in the morning).

Pack up yourself and your kids, and head for the hills.

Teach them tomorrow's another day. Maybe the perfect one to start an independent agency.


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