Douglas McKinlay begins each day at 5:30 a.m. He typically has 12- to 16-hour days teaching classes, dealing with ethical and moral issues and helping run the BYU AdLab.
McKinlay described himself as passionate about both his family and career. He is the BYU devotional speaker Tuesday, June 19, at 11:05 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.
McKinlay is the founder and former president of McKinlay and Partners Advertising, a full time professor at BYU and one of the founders of the BYU AdLab.
“(Advertising) is not a boring industry — it is active and happy,” McKinlay said.
He was hiking in the Alps when he decided to tell his wife about his plans to leave his partnership at the Keiler and McKinlay advertising firm and start his own advertising company.
“It was like asking my wife to marry me for the second time,” McKinlay said. “But this time I was asking her not only to be with me, but support me in my decision and to stick with me.”
Though McKinlay was unsure about his future, his hard work has paid off with his success in the advertising industry. He said he does not regret the risks he has taken.
“If I would live my life again, I would do it the same way,” he said.
McKinlay said believing in yourself is the key to success. “We can become whatever we can be in life,” McKinlay said. “We can do the hard things in this life.”
One of those hard things in McKinlay’s life was standing by the morals he set for himself. When he had his own advertising agency, an influential tobacco company asked him to create their advertising campaign. Although the payment was a generous amount, McKinlay declined to work for them because he wanted to sell a product that brought a positive influence to people’s lives.
McKinlay said while living in Reno, Nev., he made the decision to work only for accounts that had products that would benefit others. He saw many married men become addicted to gambling and lose their paychecks to the casinos.
Thinking back on his career, McKinlay said, “I did exactly what I wanted, and I liked what I did.”
McKinlay sold his company in 1996 when he was called to be the president of the Arizona Tucson Mission. “Now, I’m teaching and I feel that I am still very involved with advertising,” McKinlay said, “but this time on the other side of it.”
McKinlay’s approach is to teach students how to create clean and fun advertisements with the ability to connect with their audience. “My main goal is to train living room humor instead of bathroom humor,” he said.
Betty Jo McKinlay, McKinlay’s wife, described her husband as a person who is able to think outside the box, which allows him to solve complex problems with unexpected solutions.
Betty Jo explained even though her husband has always been busy, he never missed important and special events in his family. Some of her favorite memories are when he would have personal interviews with their children or be in the stands cheering for them as they participated in sports.
Karene Hoopes, a former advertising student and current BYU AdLab manager, said she is amazed with McKinlay’s ability to work hard, yet still have fun. “McKinlay never stops, and he spreads enthusiasm no matter what he is working on,” Hoopes said. “Even when he is giving constructive criticism, it is inspiring.”
Hoopes said her favorite memory of McKinlay is when she took an upper-level communications class from him. She said she wrestled with the creative elements of advertising but found she had a passion for the business side. She said McKinlay found a tongue-in-cheek way to acknowledge both facets and steer her toward her strengths.
“I got a sticky note back from him on one of my assignments. It said, ‘You are not very creative, but you sure are fun to work with,'” Hoopes said. “I still have that sticky note and love it.”
For the future, McKinlay plans to keep his life productive and fulfilled by continuing teaching advertising and encouraging his students to hold themselves to high standards.