Turkey Day table talk

By Published on .

Most Popular
Greg Moy, VP-regional creative director at Y&R Advertising, Dearborn, Mich., can count on two things at Thanksgiving. One: The extended Moy family will gather at his house to celebrate the holiday. And two: Table talk will turn to advertising.

For not only does Greg work in the biz, but so does his son, Jeremy, an art director at Doner in Southfield. His daughter, Tiffany Moy-Miller, is a senior copywriter at the Marketing Continuum in Dallas, and her husband, Steven Miller, begins work as an art director at Upshot, Chicago, next month.

"Are you kidding? With so many people in advertising around, it is generally the main topic of conversation," Ms. Moy-Miller said.

Ad talk is as much a holiday tradition as turkey and trimmings for a number of families with more than one member working in the industry. From tearing apart the latest prime-time ads to mapping out a career path, siblings, spouses, parents and their children who all toil in the ad world often find shop talk is just as meaningful with one another as it is in the office.

Larry Postaer, exec VP-director of creative services at Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., and his three sons will get together in Mexico this holiday season. Son Jeremy is a group creative director at GSD&M, Austin, Texas; Steffan is the creative mind behind Chicago agency Leo Burnett USA's edgy effort for Kraft Foods' Altoids. Daniel isn't in advertising but is in what his father called a "related" business involving the Internet and music.


While other families may argue about current events or religion, the Postaers have "lively" discussions about advertising.

"It's been part of our family's repertoire forever," said Steffan, who's exec VP-creative director at Burnett. "I always ask my father about the politics or lack thereof at his company, how's it going with some of his best people. He's always curious about what's happening at Burnett. My brother, Jeremy, who's at GSD&M, always sort of represented the `legitimate creative side of things,' and would ride me about working at `conservative' Burnett. After Altoids he stopped making fun of me. That was a milestone."

Some ad families, however, find that ad talk goes over as well as the leftover turnips.

Chris and Jeff Curry, twin brothers and both art directors on the IBM Corp. account at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, talk about work at work, outside of work and at family gatherings.

"It sounds weird when we talk to relatives or people who know us separately, because they say, `You guys are both art directors-don't you ever shut up about work?' " Jeff said.

Other ad professionals find their relatives ask for the details. "People are always interested in advertising. Everyone thinks it's such a great glory job, so people ask," said Emily Jeary, senior account exec with Renegade Marketing Group, New York, and daughter of Michael Jeary, president-chief operating officer of Della Femina, Rothschild, Jeary & Partners. "When family members ask each of us about the business, they learn our experiences are so extremely different from one another-with him as the leader of an entire network of people, while I talk more about my experiences with an untraditional ad agency."

When Nina DiSesa, chairman-chief creative officer at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, and her husband, Brian Goodall, chairman-CEO of Hampel/Stefanides, gather with family members, they stick to the light side of business.

"Brian puts such a humorous spin on things that happen at work," Ms. DiSesa said. "We share stories that are fun and funny, and make everyone think you are having the best time of your life while working 18 hours a day."

Jeb Brown, CEO of EPB Communications, married Linda Srere, president-CEO of Y&R Advertising, New York, two years ago. One of the few top management couples, they tend to not talk a lot about the business. "We do help each other out, but we try to avoid what goes on at Y&R and what goes on at EPB. We get enough of that at work," Mr. Brown said.

He added, "It's actually better that we each have different spheres of influence. There's a tendency to take it home with you, and the business is demanding enough that you don't need to take it home with you. We generally prefer to leave it at the office."


For several of these executives, ad chat with family was established at an early age. Greg Moy took his children to local shoots and editing sessions when they had time off from school. Kathryn Krone, a junior art director at DDB Worldwide, New York, remembers receiving a tape of ad jingles as a present from her father, legendary creative director Helmut Krone, when she was 6 years old. And though Emily Jeary said her father never brought work home, she learned about brand loyalty at a young age because her mother only bought the products of her father's clients.

Some executives who are well into carving out a successful career path in advertising find discussing work with relatives can be insightful. Mark Morris, chairman of Bates North America, New York, occasionally offers career advice to his daughter, Nicole Morris Merrick, account supervisor with BBDO Worldwide.

"It's a very special moment when your child calls you and says, `I've got to publish something; do you have any ideas?' But now we talk more about growth and opportunities, not the details," Mr. Morris said.

Greg Moy turns to his own children for input at times. "When I was cutting a couple of videos and trying to find trendy music, my son pulled about 10 CDs and said, `Listen to these, Dad. Or at least don't cut to Roy Orbison anymore.' So it keeps me really current," Mr. Moy said.

For Anthony Brescia, executive group director at Merkley Newman Harty, New York, and his wife, Jayne Evans, managing partner at Y&R Advertising, discussions about general advertising come naturally. "We could be in the kitchen cooking and hear a TV commercial. And if it's a lousy spot we will both say, `What were they thinking?' " Mr. Brescia said.

But like many other professionals who work with a relative in the same industry, Mr. Brescia and Ms. Evans stop the talk when it comes to confidential client or agency topics.

"About four months ago, we were both in the finals of the big pitch for Citibank," Mr. Brescia said. "We couldn't bring it up at all. At home it was just `How was your day?' `Fine.' "

Donna Speciale, senior VP-director of national broadcast at Grey Global Group's MediaCom, made a point last year to limit talk about advertising outside of work.

"It got really hard for me because I felt like I couldn't get away since my husband and my father are in the business," Ms. Speciale said. Her father, Mike Speciale, is VP-group director of the print buying group at MediaCom, and her husband, Gary Reisman, is VP-marketing and sales for Turner Broadcasting System's international Internet operation.

Some executives find that having a relative in the business means they actually have to talk less about work. "One of the great things about being in the business together is having a great shorthand," Ms. DiSesa noted. "We can cover the day in 2 seconds, while someone who is not in the industry is fascinated and wants you to relive every minute of your horror."

But as intriguing as the ad business is to those in it, some professionals will likely find there's a limit to how much ad chatter the rest of the family wants to hear around the holiday dinner table.

"We have Christmas with Dad and start talking very broad and general, but then play off each other until he knows everything about the Motorola pitch and the latest IBM campaign," Jeff Curry said. "He's interested, but we try to put a lid on it. If someday my sons come home and are just blathering on, I'll say, `OK, let's talk about anything else.' "

Contributing: Wendy Davis, Alice Z. Cuneo, Kate MacArthur.

In this article: