Guy Day, a founder of Chiat/Day, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, Jan. 16, TBWA\Chiat\Day confirmed. Day, 77 years old, died from natural causes, the agency said.
Day originally founded a Los Angeles shop, Faust/Day, with Tom Faust. After Faust left, Day and Jay Chiat, a fellow Southern California entrepreneur, merged their agencies in 1968 to create a shop that would produce some of advertising’s most iconic work of the time. After the merger, Day famously remarked to the Los Angeles Times that his appointment as agency president resulted from a coin toss with Chiat.
Their shop was the first to forge an industry outside of traditional centers like New York and Chicago, attracting national marketers and winning global acclaim for the agency’s work. The success of C/D helped pave the way for creative upstarts in cities like Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Minneapolis. With watershed spots like Apple’s Orwellian “1984,” which launched the Macintosh, C/D created the tradition of the Super Bowl commercial showcase.
One of the architects of that spot, Lee Clow, TBWA\Worldwide CCO, said of Day’s death: “Guy made me sane while Jay made me crazy. He taught me a lot of things — like how to understand Jay. I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Guy.”
If Jay Chiat was the agency’s flamboyant front man, Day was its steady behind-the-scenes presence in its early days. On the agency’s alumni blog, Jay Day, Laurie Coots, CMO, TBWA\Worldwide, recalled of Day: “As others have said, Guy was an intelligent man, a thoughtful man, a strongly opinionated and yet a fair and gentle man. Most importantly, Guy was a generous man — one confident enough to persuade, shape and influence from the edge of the spotlight, rather than from its center.”
In 1970, C/D launched Honda’s first car in the U.S., only to lose it in 1974 after the marketer felt it outgrew the agency. Day, intent on spending time writing novels, left at that point but returned in 1982 to oversee the L.A. agency while Jay Chiat moved to New York to build an office there. In 1986, Day retired from the agency but later popped up in a business development role to help friends at L.A. startup, Keye/Donna/Pearlstein.
To read more recollections of Guy Day, visit http://www.jayday.org/.
His wife Annette, daughter Colleen, sons Bill and Cameron and four grandchildren survive Day.
A private family ceremony will be held through the Neptune Society.