Intel Vice President of Global Creative Direction, Teresa Herd
BY JODY TURNER
Teresa Herd is a business powerhouse and creative force. For the last three years she has driven Intel’s creative voice to success by bringing creative control, in part, in-house. The results are an amazing array of global partnerships, Red Bull, XGames, NBA, and results such as a personal ranking as one of AdAge’s 50 most creative people, and Intel named to Ad Age’s Marketer A List. It doesn’t end there, today she is known broadly for bringing meaningful inspiration and downright pleasure to the mind’s eye — let’s talk Lady Gaga’s David Bowie tribute at the Grammy’s. This was a House of Gaga + Intel special project which won a Cannes Gold Lion award and five Clios. This year Intel tech-partnered with Lady Gaga for the Super Bowl LI (51) halftime show in which 300 Intel drones lit up the sky. Intel won three more Clios and four more Cannes Lions as a result.
Herd is supernatural in her work as Intel’s Vice President (VP) of Global Creative Direction. How does she do it? Well, we asked her, she shared, and gave us the link to her personal project which is quite cool and impactful.
And there is more. For the third year in a row, under her influence, Intel grew in global brand value as measured by Forbes, Brand Z, and InterBrand. Her “Agency Inside” was named #1 Internal Agency by AdAge.
When I listen to videos of you talking about how you built the internal agency within Intel these last three years, I am struck with the brilliance of the approach. Not that it is new, it is just that you did it. Pulled it off… but as I talk with you I find that you are a natural synthesizer… you have worked with the best, absorbed the best and, have learned how over the years, to apply it. And as you do what you do, it comes across as a natural flow. How did you get here?
Ultimately, I never had a plan, I was creatively opportunistic as I walked through my world, particularly my work world. I try to maximize the work for the brand, I really don’t look at my ‘career’. It was clear what I needed to do for the brand to thrive.
I haven’t always had success. There were times when I wanted agency jobs that I didn’t get. It shakes your confidence when people tell you how you are not good at this or that… but ultimately opportunities come up and I put my head down and worked, really worked. I didn’t work on my brand rather I took each brand as an opportunity to help them thrive.
And oddly enough, my background was in technical/medical illustration. Working on the technical side of the brain helped me to understand strategies… and unexpectedly led me to what I am doing today. And while it took time to come up to speed, the tech industry utilizes the same parts of my brain as the medical industry did.
People want to know your thoughts about your road to success.
I came out here with the goal of rebuilding the brand. Building the internal agency was a part of that… and I thought it would be similar to other work I have done. But it was not. This work is different, the type of talent I needed to hire was different. I didn’t hire anyone for the first eight months because I needed to learn the business, what the Return on Investments (ROI) could be. Expectations in the West Coast tech world are different than what I experienced on the East Coast in my work with Staples. The transition wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
Because Intel relied so much on their external talent partners, when I arrived there was no internal infrastructure for our work … nothing. So, I waited and waited, using the external sources, until I knew how much I could impact Intel positively and how I could sell the build out all the way through.
I see other groups struggle when they are not able to find the right people to work with. I work hard to find the right people for what we need. The key is having the decision-making power to decide who works on what, whether it is the Agency Inside or an external agency. This helps me to find success for the brand and all of the agencies involved.
I know my team well, who does what, and what our capacity is. I understand the strengths of each of the groups and bring the right ones to bear on any given project.
And importantly, I always hire people better than I; hiring super talented people brings with it great work. It all took off from there.
If you were to talk about successful approaches or even success in advertising, what would you say?
Teresa: My point of view is practical. Every company is different and what is right for Intel might not be right for another company. While you have to do what is right for your company, it is not always easy nor at times what you want to do. It is important then that you personally pick, choose and align with a brand that you are passionate about helping build out, grow, and evolve. Working and building internally takes a strong commitment, you feel the impact you have upon the company so directly. Working externally may not bring the same sort of pressure nor the same reward. It is all about choice. Advertising has changed and is changing so much, staying tuned in to what type of work you want to commit to producing will help you find the passion to produce it.
We hear how male dominated the tech world is over and over. What is point of view on this now that you are a leader in this arena?
I have certainly considered this whether as a woman in the tech world or as a woman in the ad world. Additional I worked in retail which is also dominated by males in senior roles. I don’t know why this is, but I am conscious of it when I staff my team. When I see women in upper roles I ask how I might help… and how I can help my team.
In my career, I have put myself in the position of riding against the norm and have done well by simply getting things done. My strongest suit is perception, reading a room, and in particular reading my audience has helped me. When you walk into a room you have the opportunity to sell or not sell. How do you impact the people you come in contact with succinctly, powerfully, deeply, and with permanence? This goes beyond gender.
Because I have had a level of success here, I try to help women whenever I can.
You are up for several awards for the off-time work you have done, a short film about the Women’s March. Can you tell us a little about this?
We asked women why marching was important to them, and we sought honest answers. It’s a simple concept, beautifully shot, and it needed to happen. We had an all-female creative team lead by Marianne Besch, a woman director and an all-woman crew. We are proud of it. We pulled it off in a couple of weeks and as a result it has a highly documentary style, and is very real.
Is there a surprising learning you have had with that?
It surprises me that we have had over 12 million views across platforms with ZERO paid media. Eight million came in the first week the film was published. Why? The March was truly and impactful experience and people love talking about and sharing it. As soon as people find out I was involved in the March, immediately walls break down and people begin openly sharing their own experiences. This was an important event in our lives, our generation, we are happy to have captured what we did.
The book Living in the Creative Zone, Transforming the World One Idea at a Time is a collection of interviews with international figures driving innovation and change forward through their day-to-day work. For the next year these interviews will publish on the impactmania platform, the complete e-book will be available in the fall of 2018.