During the week after Father's Day, I took part in a roundtable discussion about marketing to parents that was organized by PR Week and featured a lot of PR people that I hope a lot of other PR people will listen to. The two parents were Liz Gumbinner and me (which was fine by me, since I always come off smarter when I appear with Liz), and the result was a productive dialogue about what resonates with modern parents, and why so many advertising efforts are trapped timidly in the Bronze Age.
You can read the full transcript here; it features a picture of me looking as though I'm explaining how to fit your head into a toaster oven.
While I was there, I met a representative of the WWE who had come down from her feral tree dwelling (or whatever it is that WWE people live in) in Connecticut to see how she could work with parents to help showcase their mayhem. And a few weeks later, she offered to fly the boys and me to LA to see SummerSlam this weekend.
I told her, straight up: I enjoyed Ric Flair and "Superfly" Snuka when I was a kid, but I haven't paid a lick of attention to pro wrestling since Jerry Lawler bitch-slapped Andy Kaufman. (My kids know even less; when I asked the 11yo about it, he said, "that's where those huge guys pretend to beat the grickle-grass out of each other, right?") But I think that's part of her goal -- to reach out and grow the fan base among those who wouldn't know John Cena from John Sununu.
(Note to self: There needs to be a reality show where those two guys swap jobs. CENUNU!)
I decided to go for a few reasons. First and foremost, even though these donnybrooks are pure theater, they ain't fake. These are showmen and women who also happen to be incredible physical specimens that work their asses off to make it all look good.
Second, I'm told I'll hear a lot about the WWE's literacy programs, its anti-bullying efforts, its work with Make-A-Wish -- stuff you don't normally associate with a savage ballet of colliding Colossi, and just the sort of thing that parents should know more about. Stay tuned for that.
Third, in a show of really great timing, John Cena handled himself masterfully when TMZ ambushed him with the news that Darren Young had come out as a gay man. The "reporter" tried to bait him with questions about how much trouble this would cause among the other wrestlers, and Cena was better than just diplomatically distant. He was proud and happy for him. I'm not sure I'll get the chance to meet Cena, but if I do I'll be happy to shake his immense meathook of a hand.
I also want to give the boys a glimpse at what exactly it is I manage to do for a living. They're still not quite sure why I'm always home to greet them in the afternoon while all their other friends' dads aren't, and yet I manage not to live under a bridge.
Mostly, though, I'm doing it for the adventure. My kids are becoming harder to shake out of their summer routines lately, and I want to create a memory about having no idea what we're in for and saying, "Screw it. Let's roll." We're headed out because an opportunity happened, and there is value in not dismissing everything as completely lame.
We'll see how it goes. If they enjoy themselves, I'm a hero who ignited their desire to seize opportunities and explore realms outside of what they think they know.
And if they don't, I'll never pry them out of the house again.