Leadership: How Jay Chiat Handled Donald Trump

How Jay Chiat Handled Donald Trump
The inimitable Jay Chiat

This year, TBWA/Chiat/Day celebrates its 50th anniversary, and all this week the agency has been marking the milestone with reverence, nostalgia and a little bit of mischief – much of it honoring the spirit of its legendary co-founder Jay Chiat.

With 50 years come plenty of memories, and TBWA/Chiat/Day N.Y. CEO Rob Schwartz also called upon Chiat alumni to provide some of their best ones, which the agency has been sharing on LinkedIn.

One of the funniest was shared by Steve Goldman, co-founder and CEO of Geshtalti, who worked at Chiat from 1991 to 2000.

When The Donald introduced Trump Airlines he wanted the “greatest” agency and chose Chiat/Day.  Chiat produced some brilliant advertising for the Trump Shuttle.

But evidently ads not to Trump’s “taste”, who sent Jay a very nasty and  threatening letter about the work and the agency.  Nicely typed on beautiful gold-enladen stationery.

In uniquely Jay fashion, he replied with a hand-written note attached to Donald’s original letter that simply said:


I thought you should know that some lunatic has stolen your stationery.      


And of course Chiat/Day was summarily fired.

…Jay had a vision much bigger then keeping any one client happy, and he wasn’t going to let some bully push him around.

Disclosure: I proudly worked for TBWA/Chiat/Day and Chuck McBride for seven years.