When taking your next vacation, why not stick around for an extra day before returning to the daily grind? That’s the thinking hotel and casino managers across the country hope their guests will adopt when they hear about Rehab Sunday, the brainchild of a local and legendary advertising guru.
A change has taken place in recent years, thanks to the work of Santa Barbara-based IdeaWork Studios, and once-deserted Sunday afternoon scenes have morphed into poolside parties that rival Friday night dance floors. Hotels and resorts in cities like Las Vegas and New York City owe a debt of gratitude to the efforts of IdeaWork Studios’ president and Santa Barbara native Jay Schwartz.
The four-year college experience at UCSB, which Schwartz took part in, is a time when malleable young minds come into influences that shape their future with an invaluable education. It’s not the curriculum I speak of — I’m talking about life in Isla Vista. For a man like Jay Schwartz, his college experience provided the education necessary to become the mastermind for the ultimate getaway. Pair this background with a degree in Art Studio and the result is the founder of IdeaWork Studios, an interactive advertising agency.
Some of Jay’s clients include casinos like Harrah’s, Barona, and Hard Rock, and managers there have asked Jay’s company to persuade people to want more out of their vacation, and more out of their accommodations. With events such as Rehab Sunday and Intervention, Sunday mornings and afternoons at these hotels now see performances by big name music artists such as Tiesto and Deadmau5.
Jay’s high-profile work in Las Vegas may make it seem like he’s a man who got his degree at UCSB and moved on and out of town. This is not the case, however. He is a true Santa Barbara local and contributing member of the community. The IdeaWork Studios’ main office resides just off of State Street. When asked why he works and lives in Santa Barbara he replied, “I like the energy of Vegas, but I love the chill of Santa Barbara. It keeps me grounded.” Jay graduated from UCSB in 1992, and that very year he demonstrated his talent at our celebrated I Madonnari chalk painting festival. He makes sure to move his busy work schedule around for the event as he has participated every year since, and is now a featured artist.
Life hasn’t always been easy for Jay and his company. Working in advertising, he’s seen the highs and lows of the .com industry, and suffered from its collapse at the beginning of the decade. With the roller coaster ride he’s been on the last fifteen years, he’s taken a big chance by sticking with his own company. “There was a time where I didn’t take a paycheck for two years,” he said.
After getting to know the man a bit though, it is evident that he has done quite well for himself. The work environment for his employees is an inspirational and welcoming atmosphere that produces creative and exceptional advertising. Schwartz took a chance when staying steadfast with his company, but the gamble paid off as his work draws the attention of big names and companies countrywide.