‘I will not put up with flat, yucky hair. Not today.’
These are words that I do actually aim to live by but that is not my reason for printing them today. In fact, that is the very copy that Terri Meyer (left) and Sandy Greenberg (right), founders of the NYC agency Terri & Sandy, wrote for Ivory Shampoo and Conditioner some 25 years ago. It was the first job they ever worked together on. Sandy is (jokingly) “horrified” by it and they still repeat the line to each other to this day, laughing hysterically as they do so.
Terri and Sandy wrote that copy while at D’Arcy, Masius, Benton and Bowles in St. Louis, Missouri, the first agency they both worked for and where they both started on exactly the same day. They rose through the agency world together as an art director (Terri) and copywriter (Sandy) team, working at the likes of JWT and FCB, where they were co-ECDs at a time when only 3% of creative directors were women before founding Terri & Sandy around 11 years ago.
“Terri didn’t like me,” Sandy remembers of when they first got to know each other. “She thought I was neurotic and work-obsessed - I can’t imagine what gave her that idea.” Soon after, Terri began to see other dimensions to Sandy's personality, although Sandy was skeptical of Terri's cheerful personality. “25 years later, Terri’s hugs have become her signature throughout the industry and people clamour for a Terri Meyer hug. I guess she’s not so fake after all,” says Sandy.
Preconceptions aside, the pair actually became friends before partners. Terri begged Sandy to work on that Ivory Shampoo and Conditioner campaign and around about the same time Sandy’s then creative director suggested that they would make a great team. “However, we never worked as an official team in St. Louis,” says Terri. “But after I moved to D’Arcy in New York, Sandy was my birthday present. I told the CCO at D’Arcy NY that ‘it was my birthday on Monday’ and asked if he was getting me the present I wanted? (I was so audacious.) He sent her to my office with a giant yellow ribbon around her neck.” They’ve been a team ever since.
Nowadays, Terri and Sandy believe that their traits are suitably matched both in how they view the business and creative work. So much so that after their many years together, about 95% of the time they have the exact same opinion on the work, even if they come to their opinion at different times. They are also, unbeknownst to them, known to say the exact same thing verbatim when one walks into a room after another. In the uncommon event that they do disagree on something, their strategy is to go with whoever has the strongest opinion on the topic.
“I’m intense. She’s cheerful,” says Sandy. “I’m super focused. She always has time for a conversation. I’m one to overthink, scrutinise, obsess over details. She cares about quality but wants to GET IT DONE. Terri’s ‘doer’ personality has been a gift since we started our business.”
That being said, like any great relationship, there are small things about each other that they do find frustrating. “But it’s usually about small, stupid things that I can never remember,” says Terri.
Sandy adds: “Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of writing and Terri will start talking to me. I answer once or twice and then pick up my computer and leave the room. She’s like, ‘wait, I won’t talk. I’ll leave.’ I annoy her when I drivel on and on about spending too much money on rent and the need to redesign our capabilities deck. Terri also hates it when I want to throw an office ping pong party. She hates ping pong even more than bowling.”
Unsurprisingly – and ping pong parties aside – they are both in agreement that their greatest achievement as partners is launching Terri & Sandy together. “In our business having a partner you can trust, count on, share a common vision, navigate the highs and lows, not to mention all the corporate politics is a gift,” says Terri. “It is the one thing for which I am most grateful in my career.”
“The benefits are endless,” adds Sandy. “This is a very challenging industry, even on a good day. We creative people throw our hearts and souls into our ideas and they are beaten and bruised at every turn. A great partner is your shelter from the storm. They help you crack the most difficult briefs. They boost your confidence when you are feeling down. They stand up for you, defend you, champion you.
“They make you laugh in the midst of the crazy.”