INVENTING DESIRE by Karen Stabiner


Inside Chiat/Day: The Hottest Shop, the Coolest Players, the Big Business of Advertising
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 A year or so in the life and near-death of a maverick ad agency at the southern California end of Madison Avenue. Stabiner (contributing editor/Los Angeles Times Magazine; Courting Fame, 1986, etc.) lurked (apparently unnoticed) within the halls of power agency Chiat/Day (where T-shirts and blue jeans prevail over suits and HermÇs ties) to reveal feverish doings. Advertising Age named Chiat/Day ``Agency of the Decade'': The shop had given birth to the renowned Energizer Bunny, among other pop icons, after all. Founder Jay Chiat, planning for future management, reorganized his firm just as the recession curtailed ad budgets worldwide and agencies scrambled to retain old clients and to steal new ones. Chiat/Day accounts defected and, with only Nissan to keep things going, the business of assigning irresistible personality to machines and breathless desirability to merchandise became particularly tough for the agency. Christmas bonuses took the form not of big bucks but of bicycles. Office politics, fervid ``pitches'' to prospective clients, skittish vanity, and all the evolving events are detailed here with little hint of the outcome, and the result is a text more interesting than it has any right to be. ``Great creative is what we're about,'' the players proclaim, as they ``back-fill with a rationale.'' It's jargon at its arcane, language-twisting worst: As the boss says, ``use him as a tool- -instead of having him use creative as a tool in the account management sense''--but even that extraordinary bit of gibberish begins to signify something in this vivid text. (Hint: ``creative'' is always a noun in this world.) A sharply drawn picture of the tensions between the ``creatives'' and the account people, and of the frantic personalities who live on 15 percent of ephemera, selling us whatever needs to be sold. (Eight pages of color, eight pages of b&w photos--not seen)

Pub Date: May 17th, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-72346-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993


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