Kevin Roberts (businessman)

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Kevin Roberts

Roberts in 2014
Born (1949-10-20) 20 October 1949 (age 73)
Lancaster, England
EducationLancaster Royal Grammar School
TitleChairman, Red Rose Consulting

Kevin John Roberts CNZM (born 1949) is a British businessman. He was the chief executive officer (CEO) of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi from 1997 to 2014. In September 2006, Saatchi & Saatchi won a US$430 million JC Penney contract because of the idea of lovemarks, which was invented and promoted by Roberts. Roberts became executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi in 2015, then non-executive chairman in 2016.[1] He resigned in August 2016 to focus on the marketing and leadership consultancy he founded in 1995, Red Rose Consulting.[2][3]

Early life and career (1949–86)[edit]

Roberts was born and raised in Lancaster in the northwest of England. He was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School in the 1960s. He then became an assistant brand manager for Mary Quant Cosmetics in 1969.[4] Roberts was later promoted to a brand manager.[5]

From 1969 to 1986, Roberts worked as international new products manager at Gillette, then group marketing manager at Procter & Gamble (P&G), then regional vice president at Pepsi Cola, Middle East in 1982.[6]

Executive career (1987–96)[edit]

In 1987, Roberts was appointed to the first "chief" role in his career, as president and CEO of Pepsi Cola, Canada. While at Pepsi Canada, Roberts notably executed a publicity stunt after a keynote speech to a group of Pepsi Canada employees, bottlers, and the media. Roberts had a Coke vending machine rolled onto the stage while he was speaking. As he finished his speech, he reached down, picked up a machine gun, and blasted the Coke machine.[7] "[Roberts] meticulously planned the spectacle, borrowing a gun from a squad of police officers and rigging the vending machine so that he had to fire only one blank to set off a dazzling rat-a-tat-tat."[8]

From 1989 to 1997, Roberts was director and chief operating officer (COO) of Lion Nathan.[9]

CEO Worldwide (1997–2016)[edit]

In 1997, Roberts was appointed the role of CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi.[9] In 1997, Saatchi & Saatchi was in "deep trouble, with morale at an all-time low."[10] Roberts was advised to restructure the business drastically by bringing in his own people and moving current people around. Instead, Roberts brought in and moved nobody for two years.[11] Against all odds, Roberts was able to get things in Saatchi & Saatchi moving again in one year. Roberts then started the process to make Saatchi & Saatchi into one of the best advertising agencies around the world.

In September 2006, Saatchi & Saatchi won a US$430 million JC Penney contract because of the idea of lovemarks, invented and promoted by Roberts.

In the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours, Roberts was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to business and the community.[12]

On 30 July 2016, Roberts was placed on leave[13] by Publicis Groupe, after an interview[14] with Business Insider in the wake of controversial comments[15] about gender diversity in advertising business, stating that "the fucking debate is all over. This is a diverse world, we are in a world where we need, like we’ve never needed before, integration, collaboration, connectivity, and creativity" and judging that women lacked ambition for top leadership roles.[14]

"It is for the gravity of these statements that Kevin Roberts has been asked to take a leave of absence from Publicis Groupe effective immediately", stated[16] Groupe Chief Executive Maurice Lévy. Roberts resigned from his position on 3 August, with effect from 1 September 2016.[17][18][19][20]

Business owner, consultant and coach (2016-present)[edit]

Since leaving Publicis Groupe in 2016, Roberts' main role has been counselling and coaching business leaders and employees on leadership, marketing and creative thinking through his company Red Rose Consulting, founded in 1995,[2][3] clients include: Freemantle,[21] AIA,[22] Sogrape,[23] Coordinate Advertising,[24] and Transmed MEA.[22]

Roberts was chairman of My Food Bag (2015[25]-2019) and chairman of cricket company CricHQ (2016[26]-2018) which is based in New Zealand.

Roberts was chairman of Beattie (2017-2019), the creative communications group.[27][28] His remit – to take the London-headquartered integrated marketing agency and its Only boutiques into English-speaking countries around the world.

Recent appointments[edit]

Roberts is an independent director of the UK grocery chain Booths (2017[29]-present)[30] and Chairman of English Lakes based company Herdy (2017[31]-present[30]).


  • Peak Performing Organisations – Lessons for Business from the World's Leading Sports Organisations, 2000, by Clive Gilson, Mike Pratt, Kevin Roberts, and Ed Weymes (ISBN 1-58799-150-0)
  • Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands, 2004
  • Sisomo: The Future on Screen, 2005 (ISBN 1-57687-268-8)
  • Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands (Expanded Edition), 2006, (ISBN 1-57687-270-X)
  • The Lovemarks Effect: Winning in the Consumer Revolution, 2006, (ISBN 1-57687-267-X)
  • Diesel: XXX Years of Diesel Communication, 2008, (ISBN 0-84783-166-3)
  • 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World, 2016, (ISBN 978-1576877715)


  • CEO in Residence at RYSE Asset Management (2022–present)[32]
  • Expert in Residence at Oxford University’s The Foundry (2017–present)[33]
  • Honorary doctorates: University of Waikato[34] (1998), International University in Geneva[35] (2009), Lancaster University[36] (2009)
  • Honorary professorships: Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas[37] (2008), University of Auckland[38] (2008), Lancaster University[39] (2009), University of Victoria B.C.[40] (2015)
  • Professorships: University of Waikato[41] (2003-2007)
  • Inaugural CEO in Residence at Cambridge Judge Business School[42] (2001-2009)


  1. ^ "KR Connect – Blog of Kevin Roberts, Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi: 1997".
  2. ^ a b "Hillary Summit International Board Members" (December 2016) Hillary Summit
  3. ^ a b "Kevin Roberts Author Profile" (December 2016) via Amazon
  4. ^ Kevin Roberts. Lovemarks: the future beyond brands p.13
  5. ^ Kevin Roberts. Lovemarks: the future beyond brands p.14
  6. ^ Saatchi & Saatchi Media Press Kit about Kevin Roberts. p.1
  7. ^ Kevin Roberts. Lovemarks: the future beyond brands p.17
  8. ^ Ono, Yumiko (11 June 1997). "Saatchi's CEO Roberts Sees Romance With Core Clients". The Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ a b "Kevin Roberts – Personally Speaking Bureau". Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  10. ^ Kevin Roberts. Lovemarks: the future beyond brands p.20
  11. ^ Kevin Roberts. Lovemarks: the future beyond brands p.21
  12. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2013". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Publicis Places Executive Kevin Roberts on Leave Following Controversial Gender Remarks" (30 July 2016) Wall Street Journal
  14. ^ a b O'Reilly, Lara (30 July 2016). "Saatchi & Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts thinks the gender diversity in advertising debate is 'over'". Business Insider. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  15. ^ O'Reilly, Lara (4 August 2016). "Saatchi & Saatchi chairman Kevin Roberts has resigned following his controversial gender diversity comments". Business Insider. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  16. ^ "Publicis Groupe Statement". Publicis Groupe. 30 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts Resigns After Gender Comments". Ad Age. 3 August 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  18. ^ "Saatchi & Saatchi chairman resigns over sexist remarks". 3 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Saatchi & Saatchi boss resigns amid sexism row" (3 August 2016) The Guardian
  20. ^ "Why Saatchi boss Kevin Roberts shouldn't have resigned over sexism". The Telegraph.
  21. ^ "Magic in the Room". Red Rose Consulting. 27 November 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Making Happy Choices". Red Rose Consulting. 2 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  23. ^ "Making Happy Choices". KR Connect Blog. 3 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Learnings from the World's Greatest Ad man". Coordinate. 2 July 2020. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  25. ^ Meadows, Richard (9 March 2015). "Kevin Roberts joins My Food Bag". Stuff. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  26. ^ Wilson, Lizzie. "Kevin Roberts to become Chair of CricHQ". Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  27. ^ "KEVIN ROBERTS JOINS BEATTIE AS CHAIRMAN". Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  28. ^ Sweney, Mark (10 January 2017). "Former Saatchi boss returns after sexism row with new chair role". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  29. ^ "E.H.BOOTH & CO.,LIMITED". GOV.UK. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  30. ^ a b "Kevin Roberts Bio". Red Rose Consulting. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  31. ^ Crawford, Sue (10 November 2017). "Global ad guru takes up Herdy hot seat". In Cumbria. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  32. ^ "Kevin Roberts: Former CEO and Chairman at Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide Joins RYSE Asset Management as CEO In Residence". RYSE Asset Management. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  33. ^ "Our Mentors and Experts". Oxford Foundry. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  34. ^ Saatchi & Saatchi CEO receives Honorary Doctorate (21 February 1998) Waikato University
  35. ^ University Newsletter 2009/2010 (2009/2010) International University in Geneva
  36. ^ University, Lancaster. "Kevin Roberts honorary graduation - Lancaster University".
  37. ^ Kevin Roberts - CEO Worldwide de Saatchi & Saatchi (2008) Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas
  38. ^ "Honorary Professor of Innovation and Creativity - The University of Auckland".
  39. ^ "".
  40. ^ Kevin Roberts is the First to Receive Honourary Professorship in Leadership and Innovation by Peter B. Gustavson School of Business (March, 2015) University of Victoria B.C.
  41. ^ "Sustainable Enterprise Professor spans the globe - Scoop News".
  42. ^ "Cambridge University Business School names Saatchi & Saatchi head as first CEO-in-Residenc..."

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