When Terry MacDonald began contemplating retirement from his long career in advertising, a younger associate commented, “When my dad was ending his business career, he decided not to think of it as a ‘retirement,’ but rather as a ‘career change.’” Terry embraced that idea instantly and has conducted himself accordingly.
For most of his life, he has been an avocational drummer, with a passion for jazz. In the ’60s, he studied for five years with legendary drummer Alan Dawson. Under the combined pressures of business and family, though, he realized in 1976 that he had to put drumming aside, and did so, reluctantly, for a full 23 years. But when the time came to start winding down his advertising career, and with a focus on the years ahead, he got back into drumming with the help of another legendary drummer, Bob Gullotti, with whom he studied for another five years beginning in 1999. By 2006, when he finally concluded his advertising business activities, he was playing regularly on the Seacoast. For seven years, he also hosted a weekly jazz show on Portsmouth’s community radio station, where he was also Communications Director and Vice Chairman of the station’s Board of Trustees. As a member of the Seacoast Jazz Society’s Board of Directors, he has responsibility for the organization’s communications, in which role he created and publishes the weekly email newsletter Seacoast Jazz Notes.
A graduate of Boston College, Terry earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a commission in the U.S. Army in 1959 and, later the same year, married his wife Peg and reported for active duty at Ft. Bliss, El Paso, Texas, as an Army officer.
When he was released from the Army and back in Boston, he began his advertising career, coming up through the ranks of the Boston offices of Doremus & Company and then Batten Barton Durstine & Osborne (BBDO). In 1969, he took an entrepreneurial turn, helping to launch a new Boston advertising agency, Pearson and MacDonald, Inc., one that went on to become one of New England’s most prominent, admired and influential advertising agencies of its time. As its President and Creative Director, Terry helped lead the agency in establishing for it a national reputation and winning countless awards for advertising creativity, both regional and national.
In 1976, the Boston Art Directors Club named MacDonald Copywriter of the Year. In 1977 he won Best of Show at the Boston Advertising Club’s prestigious Hatch Awards. In 2001, he received the Ad Club’s L.E. Sissman Award for successfully combining an advertising career with an active interest in the arts. And in 2009, at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Hatch Awards, the Boston advertising industry named MacDonald a “Most Valuable Player” in the Awards’ history.
Among the clients he represented over the years were CVS Pharmacy, Pepsi-Cola Company, Gillette, Liberty Mutual, General Mills and Filene’s Basement, among many others.
MacDonald served several “tours of duty” on the Boston Ad Club’s Board of Directors and on the Board of the New England Broadcasting Association. He was also Chairman of the New England Board of Governors of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA).
Terry has been a lifelong student of management and a mentor to many, both within and beyond the context of the agencies in which he was a principal. For 20 years, he taught a “Creative Concepts” course for the Boston Advertising Club, helping scores of fledgling copywriters and art directors develop the portfolios that would help them launch their own careers in advertising. For 10 years, he was an Adjunct Professor at Boston University, where he taught a graduate-level course on “Creative Development in Advertising” to students from all over the world. Many of today’s advertising professionals in Boston, New York and beyond got their start under Terry MacDonald’s tutelage.
As a speaker, he has addressed audiences of advertising and broadcast professionals in all of the New England states, in Washington, D.C., and in New York City.
Outside of the advertising industry, he served for 15 years on the Board of Directors of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts and was the 1996 recipient of the organization’s Molly Moon Volunteer Service Award.
He and Peg moved to Portsmouth in 2001 and spend as much time as possible with their daughter Karen, son-in-law Fred Lynch, and two grandsons. He served for almost 15 years on the Seacoast Jazz Society’s Board of Directors, several of them as Vice President. He’s a member of the NAACP’s Seacoast Branch and leads a jazz trio called Dry Martini.