NEW YORK – The ad man who created the Energizer Bunny and made Nike a jock's best friend has died at the age of 70.
A visionary to the end, Bronx-bred Jay Chiat also jumped into the dot-com revolution in his 60s — he said it kept him young.
Chiat started creating his cutting-edge ads in 1962 as a one-man shop in Los Angeles and built it into a $1.1 billion agency that won every major award in the industry.
He made Honda motorcycles and Apple computers the cool icons of the 1980s, and single-handedly turned the Super Bowl into the great advertising showcase it is today.
"He's legendary, and was the creator of a new generation of advertising," said Don Deutsch, president of major ad agency Deutsch Inc. Chiat sold his successful agency seven years ago to ad giant Omnicom, and walked away with tens of millions of dollars.
But he couldn't take retirement and bought control of a small dot-com, Screaming Media, to provide content to legions of Web sites. Chiat, who was chairman of Screaming Media, had suffered in recent years from prostate cancer.
He was known for his love of design, art and architecture — enlisting visionary architect Frank Gehry to create his "binoculars building" office in Santa Monica, Calif.
He also banished all the trappings of traditional business from his offices: no titles, no office walls, just open space.
Chiat's greatest impact on the ad world was causing the Super Bowl to become the industry's "Super Bowl" for ads. For the 1984 game, he aired at halftime an Apple Computer ad to introduce the original Macintosh.
Among his award-winning work were ads for Yamaha, Frutopia and Nissan.
In the 1980s, he used splashy action photos of pro athletes wearing Nike shoes in ads — without any headlines or identifying logos. It revolutionized sports advertising and paved the way for athlete's endorsement deals and the "Just Do It" ads.