More than most people, Keith Reinhard knows that persistence pays off.

In an interview with Beet.TV, DDB Worldwide’s chairman emeritus describes the shock of being fired by McDonald’s and his 16-year campaign to win them back.

Reinhard recalls receiving notice from McDonald’s in 1981, when he was president of Needham, Harper & Steers, as the greatest setback of his career. But he immediately resolved not to work with any of the fast feeder’s competitors, though that strategy wasn’t popular with all of his colleagues — especially after he turned down another fast food account that the agency hadn’t even had to pitch.

“You’ve just gone overnight from being our biggest, most important client to being our biggest, most important new business prospect,” Reinhard recalls telling McDonald’s CEO.

Every year after being let go, Reinhard says the agency would send McDonald’s two or three big ideas. And after 10 years, Reinhard says he accepted an offer by the McDonald’s executive who had fired them to take on some promotional assignments. That was a means of getting a foot back in the door.

In 1997, the agency — by then DDB Worldwide — competed for the McDonald’s business and won it back.

“I learned a lot,” Reinhard says of the firing more than three decades ago. “We had been concentrating more on the work probably than on the relationship. That was a lesson well learned. Good relationships beat good work every time.”

This is segment is part of Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries,” a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft. Xaxis is a unit of WPP.

Reinhard was interviewed  for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital.