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Agency creative Terence Reynolds provides ample proof that creative and entrepreneurial traits can peacefully coexist in one individual. An art director by trade, he’s the co-founder and head of Shift, the urban marketing unit of The Richards Group. He has also done notable work for highly coveted brands such as Hummer, Oxygen Inline Skates, Fleet Laboratories, Dr. Martens Apparel and Footwear, the Dallas Mavericks, Corona Beer, Hyundai, Target, Nokia, Absolut Vodka, ULTA Beauty and Patrón. As a member of the Richards Group family since 1993, Reynolds is known for provocative work that builds successful brands.

07.30.13

Dig for Ideas

Where do your best ideas come from? Some serious mining. The more I dig, the better my ideas become. I always hear friends outside the business say I’m lucky; how they wish they were creative. I think everyone’s creative, they just need to do the digging.

What’s the strangest request you’ve received from a client? The only thing that comes to mind is when one asked that I stop wearing black—they found it too intimidating.

What do you consider to be the greatest headline (or ad) of all time? I’d have to say my favorite ad is a Nike spot called “Failure,” featuring Michael Jordan. He recounts how many shots he’s missed and how many games he’s lost and how many game-winning shots he was entrusted to take and then missed. It wraps up with the line, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” I love the look of the film, I love the music and I absolutely love the vibe. But that’s not what makes it my favorite spot. For me, it’s the truth of the lesson that viscerally owns me.

What was your riskiest professional decision? One of my riskiest moments came when working on the “Life Shapes” spot for Hyundai. We hired the Pilobolus dance company to form various shapes in shadows, using their bodies. They had never done that technique before. We sold it and went from thinking, “we did it!” to “what did we just do?” I love that state of fear, because that’s when the significant happens.

Where do you seek inspiration? Anywhere and everywhere, from galleries to bars. I usually start with music that vibes on where I’m headed; it’s a free-for-all from there. There’s no telling where inspiration will show up, let alone when. I just try to keep my head open until something credible knocks.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in advertising?That’s easy: straight-up musician. I have been totally immersed in art and music for as long as I can remember. My parents exposed me to everything: piano, guitar—then I ended up on a drum set, and the search was over. I absolutely love what I do, but there’s nothing like the instantaneous reward or defeat that comes from a live audience. You don’t have to wait for award shows to know if you were successful.

If you could choose any product to create an ad for, what would it be, and why? I’d go with an ad for public space travel, because it’s virgin territory, and it probably has a decent budget.

What is one challenge currently facing advertising agencies that they need to address in order to remain relevant? Finding a way to reach a generation that accepts ads on its own terms, thanks to “Delete” and “Skip” buttons. And thanks to smaller, faster, more affordable technology, there are more advertising venues, emerging more rapidly than ever. Discovering, analyzing and understanding what has potential is the first job.

How is the rise of technology helping or hurting the brands you work for? It helps them be more focused on whom they reach out to and how they converse. The downside is the flood of newcomers you have to sift through. There are only so many great ideas and tools. Finding true gold among the pyrite can be tricky, especially when you want to get in first.

What trends in advertising are you most interested in and why? I’m really intrigued by the wealth of possibilities regarding integrated marketing. The practice isn’t new, but it has become so much more complex, exciting and difficult to master. Creating a truly integrated traditional campaign was already challenging, but now it’s crazy with so many digital playgrounds in the mix. It forces you to create in numerous dimensions.

What skills do young creatives need to succeed in advertising today? The vision to legitimately predict who is up next, and from everything I’m seeing, the ability to think and write in code. One should probably leave good taste in the arsenal too.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career? Lose your fears and save your money.

Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Find an outstanding mentor you can trust. Go deep, and be ready to embrace change at the speed of light.