Jay Chiat, Dead at 70

NEW YORK — Jay Chiat, one of the most singular agency pioneers in recent advertising, died in Los Angeles at 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, a TBWA\Chiat\Day representative confirmed.

Chiat, 70, years old, had suffered in recent years from prostate cancer. He was most recently chairman emeritus of Manhattan-based Screaming Media, an Internet content distributor. But Chiat will be best remembered as the founder, in 1962, of an agency that would become Chiat/Day, the iconoclastic Los Angeles shop known as much for its swagger as for its creative brilliance. The agency’s missteps were often as fascinating as its successful campaigns, the likes of which have become advertising legend. Chiat/Day campaigns like Apple’s ‘1984’ , the Energizer Bunny and Nike’s ‘I Love L.A.’ ushered in a new era in the industry, grabbing the spotlight away from traditional industry centers like New York and drawing talent and clients into regional outposts like Los Angeles.

C/D became known for innovation, whether it be introducing new disciplines like account planning, in the US, or setting up unconventional work environments like the ‘virtual agency’ in the company’s New York offices. Chiat sold his legendary agency to Omnicom in 1996, when it was merged with TBWA.

Chiat, born in the Bronx, was reared in New Jersey and went on to graduate from Rutgers University’s School of education. Last year Chiat donated $1 million to his alma mater to create a scholarship program for African Americans and Latino students.

He was also known for his love of design, art and architecture. Chiat enlisted visionary architect Frank Gehry design to create C/D’s Santa Monica headquarters and his world class art collection included pieces from Damien Hirst, David Salle, Bryan Hunt and April Gornik.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been disclosed.