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A Dozen Who Shaped the 80s

January 01, 1990|BRUCE HOROVITZ

California's image as a pacesetter held up fairly well in the 1980s in the world of business and economics. Californians were a force for dramatic change.

Some achieved change on a grand scale--inspiring a revolution in economic policy or transforming corporate finance. Some of the change may seem minor, but it altered our daily routines and our life styles. Some business people built firms that are monuments to America's spirit of enterprise; others brought companies to ruin and became symbols of corporate recklessness.

Here is a sampling of California residents who gave American business a 1980s makeover--making it better, or worse, or just more fun.

JAY CHIAT

For years, Madison Avenue was to advertising what Detroit was to cars.

But just as the Japanese importers took the luster off Detroit in the 1980s, some people credit Los Angeles ad man Jay Chiat for almost single-handedly bringing plenty of Madison Avenue's luster to the West Coast during the decade.

And his Venice agency, Chiat/Day/Mojo, continues to keep the ad world looking West.

In the mid-1980s, it was Chiat/Day/Mojo that was creating those much talked about billboards for Nike that showed brilliant sports action but barely showed the product name. And it was Chiat/Day/Mojo that also created the famous 1984 Super Bowl ad for Apple computers, featuring an athlete who destroys the image of a Big Brother figure mounted on a high screen. That ad--which aired only once--is still talked about today.

Chiat, 58, has never wavered from his ambition to create the best advertising in the world. Even as the agency more than doubled in size--to $1 billion in billings--over the past five years, it continues to create striking ads for such clients as Eveready, Nissan and Reebok.

Although Chiat only recently stepped down from his post as chairman of the agency's U.S. operations, he remains the agency's worldwide chairman. And after this year's purchase of the Australian agency, Mojo MDA, Chiat says he will continue to look for expansion in Europe.

"I think the agency had a lot to do with getting California regarded as an advertising center," Chiat said. "We set a style without being arrogant about it."

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