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Want to find good marketing ideas? Ask your dad

Father and son reading book

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Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail's marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe's marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter @Susinsky.

We already know that dads are the original hipsters. But in a marketing world obsessed with digital innovation, and everything new, your dad might not seem to be the most natural person to ask about the next big thing.

But Pittsburgh digital agency Deeplocal does just that. Speaking at the Institute of Communications Agencies' FutureFlash conference on Wednesday, founder Nathan Martin described how he has made his father a de facto executive creative director at his firm – and encouraged everyone in advertising and marketing to think about doing the same.

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Every employee at Deeplocal has the phone number to reach Mr. Martin's 68-year-old father, Terry – nicknamed TerBear – and they are encourage to call him before pitching an idea to a client.

Why? People obsessed with technology and innovation have a tendency to complicate things, Mr. Martin said. His father has a skepticism, and an impatience with overcomplicated ideas, that acts as a stand-in for those same traits in the wider consumer sphere.

"If I can't convince my father, I should think harder about an idea before I walk into a meeting and try to sell," he said.

One project his father understood very quickly: the Nike Chalkbot. Deeplocal built this robot in collaboration with Nike's ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy in 2009. People sent in messages of encouragement and inspiration through digital channels, and in the real world, the robot (with the LiveStrong brand on it) would print those messages on the road along the Tour de France route.

The lesson, Mr. Martin said, is that ideas have to have a core that resonates with people immediately – something all marketers can learn from.

Mr. Martin has worked on ideas his father did not catch on to as quickly, as well.

"They were not very successful."

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