‘Cool as ever’ — longtime partners are thriving ‘Ad Men’ at agency MeadsDurket

Tony Durket, left, and Gary Meads at the MeadsDurket offices.
Tony Durket, left, and Gary Meads at the MeadsDurket offices.

By Catherine Kolonko

Anyone who has lived in San Diego County for a while knows that the jingle “Where the Turf meets the Surf at ol’ Del Mar” indicates summertime horse racing is about to begin.

Del-Mar

The television advertisements feature the catchy tune that harkens back to earlier days when actor-singer Bing Crosby held court at the Del Mar Racetrack. To keep the campaign fresh but still consistent with its history, this year features a pretty blonde who recently posed nude in Vanity Fair Magazine.

Yes and it’s even racier than you might think. In the TV commercial the model  – fully clothed – sits atop a carousel horse, but in real life she is successful horse jockey Chantal Sutherland. (She raced opening day this year at Del Mar, riding filly Miss California to victory in the first race of the 75th anniversary season.)

The commercial is part of an overall campaign dubbed “cool as ever” and conceived by MeadsDurket, an advertisement agency run by partners Gary Meads and Tony Durket, both 56. The pair have been working together for 24 years and were introduced to each other by their wives. Durket lives in Carmel Valley, Meads in Point Loma and their company is located in downtown San Diego.

“We do different things and I think that’s one reason we have lasted so long,” Meads said of his partnership with Durket.

Both Meads and Durket worked at Phillips-Ramsey, a large San Diego ad agency owned by McCann-Erickson, before buying remaining assets of Phillips-Ramsey and forming their own company in 2004.

Meads is the front man of the operation and runs the account and business side of the agency. Durket is the creative director, which includes managing artists, writers, and other creative staff. Durket started his career as a writer and outside of work, enjoys writing screenplays.

Durket and Meads became friends through business and their common love of advertising. Durket said his partnership with Meads is extremely important because their business is built around ideas.

“He knows a good idea and that’s a very intuitive thing,” Durket said of his partner. “There’s a lot of people that just don’t. They don’t appreciate and they don’t see the value of it. I really respect the fact that Gary does and knows how to nurture it and knows how to develop it…

“We both believe in the transforming power of idea. You know, all the companies we work with started as ideas.”

Eight years ago, the duo adopted “Where the Turf meets the Surf” for the  Del Mar race track ad campaign, said Meads. Bing Crosby wrote the song with John Burke and James Monaco in 1938, one year after Del Mar opened.

“We took the original recording and remixed it with a variety of genres (rock, reggae, jazz, etc.) but always led by Bing Crosby singing,” Meads explained in an email.

The genesis of this year’s campaign grew out of a theme of the classic pin-up girl, explained Meads.

“Then we thought, ‘Well, who would be the perfect pin-up (model) and Chantal immediately came to mind because not only is she a beautiful woman but she’s also an athlete and she’s running at Del Mar,” he said. “It just seemed to make a lot of sense and we presented the idea to her and she loved it.”

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