'A brutal time in the business': How Terri & Sandy wins big as a small shop

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Terri Meyer and Sandy Greenberg
Terri Meyer and Sandy Greenberg Credit: Alfred Maskeroni

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Terri Meyer and Sandy Greenberg are the co-founders of the New York independent shop, well, Terri and Sandy. Both refugees from the big holding company world—Meyer and Greenberg had worked together as a creative team at J. Walter Thompson and FCB—the two bring a big sensibility to small agency life.

Cofounded in 2010, Terri & Sandy has attracted, and retained, clients like Gerber, Avon, Disney and Peeps, as well as a host of newer brands. One ingredient in their secret sauce: "A long, long list" of things they saw at holding companies that they chose not to replicate, says Greenberg. "The morale in the advertising business has been very low for many years," she says.

"There's a lot of problems in the big agency world of people feeling like they have ownership, that people advocate for them. We wanted to change the climate so that people felt good about where they worked and happy. It's a very lofty goal."

A forward-thinking shop on diversity and profit sharing, Terri & Sandy also happens to have been our 2017 Ad Age Small Agency of the Year winner. (Side note: it's not too late to buy your tickets for our Small Agency Conference and Awards July 17 and 18 in beautiful Marina Del Rey Los Angeles! Check it out here.)

"When we started our business we didn't know how to write a basic thing like a scope of work. So we leaned on people who were in our network, old friends who were account people, people who were CFOs at places," says Greenberg. "It was extremely anxiety-producing having to do it."

Meyer and Greenberg both joined me for this episode of the Ad Lib podcast in which we discuss life as a small agency, building—and maintaining—agency culture, how to get on the radar of big marketers, and climbing through the ranks as a female team in the pre #MeToo era.

"We didn't hit the true glass ceiling until we got executive creative director, getting to the next level of CCO. There's been a ton of change in the last year on that," says Greenberg. "We didn't realize at times we were plowing ahead two times as hard as everyone else to get to the same level." Today, 60 percent of Terri & Sandy's upper management are women, they say.

"It's a brutal time in the business. Clients want 100 times more for 50 percent less," says Greenberg. "One of our founding mottos is 'Go where you're celebrated, not tolerated'."

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