Picks and Pans Review: Inventing Desire
by Karen Stabiner
In the 1980s, the ad agency Chiat/ Day was Madison Avenue's "hot shop"—a hipper-than-thou firm that gave the world the Energizer Bunny and USA's Infiniti.
Prospective staffers willingly took pay cuts for the privilege of joining a company where "safe and predictable" were dirty words. As journalist Stabiner writes, founder Jay Chiat "seemed to take a perverse pleasure in selling contentiousness as a virtue. His reverence for good creative work was legendary, and carried the implication that any client or account executive who did not embrace it was a coward."
Stabiner, who spent a year (1990-91) at the agency's Venice, Calif., office, has written a riveting account of the firm's transition from halcyon days to, so to speak, Halcion days: restructuring followed by the loss of clients such as Reebok and Royal Caribbean. In Stabiner's deft hands, the book becomes a species of thriller. Will Chiat return? Will the agency regain its golden touch? You'll want to stay tuned. (Simon & Schuster, $25)
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