In his more than two decades in advertising, Academy of Art University alumnus and instructor Terry Jones has built a portfolio of high-profile clients Mad Men’s Don Draper would envy. Just a few examples include GMC Trucks, Buick and Cadillac, Bank of America, Hewlett-Packard, the Walt Disney Corporation, California Lottery, AARP and General Mills. But Jones claims he wasn’t set on a career in advertising when he enrolled at the Academy. The award-winning creative director half-jokes that advertising chose him.
“When I was at the Academy, students spent their first two years taking foundation courses, like writing, illustration and painting,” explained Jones, who graduated in 1992 and recently joined the Academy’s School of Advertising (ADV) as a full-time faculty member after being a part-time instructor for several semesters. “In our third year, we were supposed to declare a major. I have no recollection of deciding on advertising, but from a young age I loved to draw and write, so it was a good fit.”
After graduating, Jones quickly began making a name for himself in the industry. As a car enthusiast, he enjoyed working on numerous commercials for auto manufacturers.
“It was fun to make them and see how a car commercial shoot works and all the different people involved,” he remarked. “I also liked visiting the GM manufacturing plants in Detroit and getting a behind-the-scenes look at how cars are built.”
Projects he’s especially proud of include the first billboard ad he created while working for the Carol H. Williams agency. Developed for the California Department of Health Services to increase awareness of the dangers of smoking, the billboard featured a photo of legendary singer and actor Sammy Davis Junior, a long-time smoker who died from throat cancer. Jones wrote the ad’s concise, powerful copy: “He took our breath away. The Tobacco Industry took his.”
“I thought this was a cool project because it was advertising that was trying to help people instead of selling a product or service,” he said. “We did a lot of that kind of thing at the agency.”
At the Academy, he wears many hats, including serving as creative director for Young & Hungry, a class that functions like a full-service agency. Students perform specific jobs that align with their interests, such as copywriter or art director, but also get exposure to other agency roles. Working in teams, they create ads and campaigns for real clients that have included Sonnen BMW, SpoonRocket and San Francisco Tourism. They also learn about budgets, account servicing and pursuing new business. And they develop branding projects, videos and ads to promote the agency.
“Young & Hungry sets students up to be professionals before they get internships or graduate,” said Jones. “My role is to keep them creative, keep them on schedule and push them to make their work the best it can be. They have a lot of fun while gaining a better understanding of advertising.”
His other courses include visual storytelling and visual design (a School of Web & New Media class). Jones also teaches a collaborative TV and commercial class with School of Motion Pictures & Television Production instructor Richard Kizu-Blair. In addition, he offers a drop-in portfolio class that provides students with the opportunity to get feedback on projects that are underway or in the planning phase. The curriculum he teaches is very different than what he experienced as an Academy student. But the school’s emphasis on mentoring is just as strong. As an instructor, Jones is committed to paying that gift forward.
“I had teachers who would take me aside and mentor me, and also had mentors throughout my career,” said Jones. “It wasn’t just about business, it was about life. And that’s the same way I try to teach now. You have to understand and be empathetic to different cultures, people and how they deal with things. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to teach."