Will I become one of those parents that…..?

I’ll often pop out of the office for a few minutes at lunchtime to get some fresh air and exercise; working in the heart of London means there is always a wealth of things to see and observe – especially along the Southbank. Today was especially busy, there were the usual tourists, the lunchtime joggers, fellow office workers, ladies that leisure, dog walkers, and then a plentiful supply of kids and parents with it being half term.

Whilst so many people walk hurriedly along face down, staring at their phones – I love to observe and explore my surroundings. With so many kids running around, and having recently become a parent myself I couldn’t help but notice all the little idiosyncrasies of those exploring the big smoke on their day out. With only a 3 month old and little parenting experience, I found myself questioning whether I would become one of those parents that allowed their kids to behave in a certain way, or demand a certain thing. I’m not saying any of this is right or wrong, but more just an observation of behaviour that will no doubt become a reality in the years ahead. Many of which brought a smile to my face 😀

And so whilst out for no more than 10 or 15 minutes, I asked myself will I become one of those parents that:

· Having insisted on bringing their scooter with them and no doubt promising to ride it themselves – yet now being pulled along proudly by parents on their little chariot.

· Push chairs being dutifully pushed along at a snails pace with the seat filled with bags, coats and shopping – a stubborn child determined to walk themselves.

· A parent sat on a bench holding a coat, clearly having lost the battle with her son’s insistence that he isn’t cold; it’s definitely not warm enough to be in just a T-shirt!

· A loud petition for an ice cream for all to hear whilst passing an ice cream van – an initial ‘NO’ turning into a ‘YES’

· A group of youths sat down at a table for lunch, all happily engrossed in their smartphones with no need to look at or communicate with each other.

One day no doubt I’ll be the parent being observed – pulling along the scooter chariot whilst tucking into an ice cream, my kid will be wearing their coat though haha!

“Don’t yell at your kids! Lean in real close and whisper, it’s much scarier.”

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What will have a greater and lasting impact?

Will watching a TV advert have a more meaningful impact than someone watching a video on Facebook or seeing a billboard at Piccadilly Circus? Are all impacts equal? The day job that sometimes strays into the night time (9-5 what’s that?) is within the marketing and advertising industry and I’m often asked by clients what will help me achieve the most meaningful interactions with consumers – in other words what will lead to more people buying my products. It’s been almost 100 years since John Wanamaker famously coined the phrase:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

…and now with a far greater number of variables in this digital age we live in, many are still no closer to truly understanding what works or what will contribute to achieving the greatest success. Of course there will be stark contrast depending on the different products and brands being advertised – and no interaction remains isolated (if you’re reading this on your phone, I imagine the TV is on in the background). It’s amazing how effective we’ve become at multi-tasking – well selective multi-tasking anyway. There isn’t a one size fits all approach.

This concept of identifying more meaningful interactions in a cluttered advertising ecosystem got me thinking about the importance of building and maintaining meaningful relationships with friends and family. Just as advertising impacts differ, what will help me achieve more meaningful interactions with those I care about. I’ve recently been caught out on a few occasions trying to have a conversation with my wife, whilst thumb surfing on the iPhone. Needless to say I haven’t yet mastered this art of multi-tasking and nor should I ever want to! We need to ensure that we lay aside the distractions and focus on being in the moment, to build long lasting memories and relationships with those we love. No one ever started a story with “Remember that time we were on our phones…….” Ditch the phone, have daily chats with your other half, read your child a bedtime story from an actual book, go for a walk and admire your surroundings – make lasting memories that will have a greater influence!

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” Stephen R. Covey