TBWA\Chiat\Day Celebrates Its 50th

The Golden Anniversary. That’s a big one, and one that TBWA\Chiat\Day is celebrating this year.

It was in 1968 that ad agency legend Jay Chiat merged his growing California agency with another small shop to form Chiat\Day.

The Day in the agency name refers to Guy Day. Interestingly, the duo had a pretty contentious relationship that ended for good in 1986, when Day called it quits after leaving once, before rejoining the firm.

Chiat is credited with all sorts of things, including putting Adland on the map on the West Coast with his brash, disruptor “Good Enough Is Not Enough” approach to promoting brands.

It worked a lot, but sometimes it didn’t.

Apple, American Express and Nike all hired and fired the agency back in its independent heydays in the 1980s and '90s. (Apple subsequently rehired the agency — and still works with it today.)

The single most famous ad the agency produced in those days was the iconic “1984” Super Bowl commercial that launched Apple’s Macintosh computer; the ad promoted disruption and defiance as a successful life plan.



That ad is also said to have been a watershed moment in Super Bowl advertising. It received such rave reviews and raised the creativity bar to such an extent that competitors concluded they needed to kick it up a notch when presenting ads on the big SB stage.

Chiat, was driven, no question, being a force on both the business and creative sides of the profession. But he knew how to let go, too. When the agency was sold to Omnicom and merged with TBWA in 1995, Chiat left the business.

As part of the agency’s 50th festivities, it is donating to and helping promote a nonprofit called Turnaround Arts:California, in part as a nod to Chiat’s love of the arts. That group was cofounded by architect Frank Gehry, a good friend of Chiat’s.

The shop has also come up with a new manifesto — now on its website — that reinforces Chiat’s dedication to going beyond “good enough.”

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