Adman Guy Day Dies, Revolutionized Super Bowl Advertising

The co-founder of Los Angeles-based Chiat\Day died on Saturday, on the eve of the Super Bowl ad-xtravaganza he helped to invent.

Guy Day


The ad industry–and Apple–mourned the loss of one of its legends this week as Guy Day, co-founder of Chiat\Day, died at age 79. Day founded his groundbreaking agency with Jay Chiat in 1968, which put Los Angeles on the ad-map and went on to become one of the most influential creative shops on the planet (Chiat died in 2002). Chiat\Day’s clients over the years have included Honda, Nike, Pizza Hut, Pepsi, and perhaps most famously, Apple, for whom they created this spot aired in, well, 1984:

Directed by Ridley Scott, who had just directed Blade Runner, the ad introducing the Macintosh computer aired in the third quarter of the Super Bowl. The cinematic-quality production–not to mention its Orwellian theme in a sea of Budweiser Clydesdale ads–instantly transformed the annual sports broadcast into an ad-driven event that it is today. The ad was only aired one more time, in a small market, to make it eligible for award shows. A far cry from those PC/Mac ads, no?

Another Apple Super Bowl ad aired in 1999, this time using 2001’s HAL as a spokesmodel. In his creepy monotone he preyed upon our worst turn-of-the-millennium fears and touted Apple’s ability to avoid the Y2K “bug.” This one was, um, not as successful.

Frank Gehry


Chiat\Day also inhabited an early office designed by Frank Gehry which featured a revolutionary way of working (and a giant pair of binoculars by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen ). In this “virtual office,” employees did not have designated desks, instead they used portable computers (PowerBooks, of course) and flexible workspaces to move around the building depending on their creative and administrative needs. Sounds pretty normal to us now, but the folks weren’t ready for it at the time: Chiat\Day moved out in 1999.

[Day photo by LAT; Gehry building by ArchitectureToursLA]

[Los Angeles Times]

About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.