Vale Charlie Robertson ~ gifted strategic thinker + founder of 'virtual planning' network Red Spider

Screenshot 2018-10-05 at 14.14.44.jpgMany in the ad industry will be saddened to hear of the passing of UK planning guru Charlie Robertson, the founder of the pioneering "virtual planning" network Red Spider consultancy and former chief strategic officer at Red Cell (later rebranded United).

Robertson, who had also previously worked at BMP, GGT and Bartle Bogle Hegarty, died suddenly on Monday.

Friends and colleagues of Charlie's in Sydney are having a drink for him on Thursday October 18 at The Tilbury from 6.30pm. All welcome.
Jan Gooding, the chair of Pamco, said: "Charlie was a warm, clever and funny man and, looking back on it, a more thoughtful feminist and sponsor of women than anyone else I met in advertising at the time. When we co-chaired IPA Stage Two together, he was so astonished by the size of his bathroom, he held a Champagne drinks party in it for all the tutors. He fuelled creativity and lateral thinking through his deft humanity, rigorous thinking and light touch."

MT Rainey, the co-founder and former CEO of Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe (later merged into Y&R), said: "Charlie was a complete one off. He was a fearless planner and a wonderful storyteller who deployed his weegie forthrightness to devastating persuasive effect. His distinctive "big" hair topped a great brain and a huge heart. Indefatigably sociable and a great bon viveur he was also a generous mentor and a great friend to many. Our world will be less colourful without him."

A civil engineer who went into advertising as a trainee at BMP, left as an Associate Director to become the first Head of Planning at BBH, before heading home to his native Scotland to set up the Planning Department for Leith Agency, then started an international network in brand consultancy - REDSPIDER in 1994. He has won advertising effectiveness awards, lectured and tutored in strategy for the IPA in UK and 4A's in USA, was appointed an honorary member for life of the Account Planning Group in the UK, and was Executive in Residence at University of Oregon School of Advertising and Journalism, is a certified member of MRS in UK and is published for work in creative strategy. He has run creative strategy training workshops in Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Japan - oh and the UK.


Ian F said:

Charlie was one of the warmest, cleverest and funniest of men. The world is much diminished by his passing. I last worked with him a couple of years ago. We used to correspond (him in Scotland, me in Melbourne) on the project in all seriousness for a couple of lines before collapsing into comparing Scottish football teams from the 1970s.

A true one off from the golden age - it seems appropriate that the very next day BBH was voted 3rd and BMP 1st in a list of the greatest UK advertising agencies of all time, both of whose corridors he graced throughout the 70s and 80s.

All thoughts and condolences go to his wide circle of friends and his family.

Georgie Pownall said:

Devastated to hear this news, especially as we were in contact just a week ago. Not only was Charlie an amazing thinker, he was also a very collegiate and generous collaborator. He was original, warm, funny and one of a kind.

Fiona Leeming said:

How terribly sad. I had the pleasure of mentoring Charlies daughter Chloe, whilst she and Charlie were both having a moment n Melbourne. Chloe had the quick ‘not so wee’ wit, intelligence and charm of her father. My heart goes out to her at this saddest of times. X

Scott Lawrie said:

Such sad news. I always enjoyed working with Charlie and learnt so much from him. Whether I was developing brand tools or trying to work something out for a client, he was always so kind and generous with his time. I’ll miss him.

Leave a comment