Why my reckless, joyous teenage kids are my secret work weapon

The chief executive of FCB Inferno would find the industry much harder to understand and cope with if he wasn't armed with his teenaged secret work weapons.

While they have absolutely no interest in following me into the advertising industry, my teenage kids influence my work on a deeply personal level. In fact, my daughter currently wants to be a trauma surgeon (honestly!) while my son is planning to be a rock star (and nothing else matters).

I want to keep my daughter feeling as empowered as the women portrayed in This Girl Can, and as a parent, it was impossible not to think of my 15-year-old son – who has already been assaulted on the streets of London – when we worked with the Home Office to create the #knifefree campaign.

My teenagers keep me up to speed on the latest apps and trends – ‘Houseparty’ has been a recent favourite. With their round-the-clock access to Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, using platforms inundated with sponsored content and paid-for promotions, they swipe away ads on Snapchat and fast-forward ads on our Sky box without a thought. Watching them make the choice of how and when to engage with brands is brutal, but it’s also fascinating and invigorating. 

I have always done my best to ensure that nativity plays and parents’ evenings have pushed me out of the door on time. ‘Family comes first’ isn’t just a common-sense life principle, it gives me the downtime and space to think.

We go to festivals together – the Isle of Wight, Reading Festival, etc. – and these are experiences that make all of the stresses of work worth it. When we found out that the Arctic Monkeys were touring this year, two teenagers who were "too cool for gigs with Dad" were suddenly keen on the idea of quality family time and free tickets.

I see family in all its guises as a work weapon across the agency. For some people, that will mean rushing off for a sports day, while for others, it will be being greeted at the door by an over-excited puppy or spending time with grandparents. We work so hard in this industry that it’s crucial that we prioritise this time to unwind, recharge, and be inspired by the people and places we love.

Frazer Gibney is chief executive of FCB Inferno

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