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Kevin Roberts        

Authority on Brands & the Future of Marketing; Executive Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi; Creator of Groundbreaking Concept & Book: Lovemarks

Kevin Roberts is an international business leader, founder, and educator. His company Red Rose Consulting counsels business leaders and employees on creative thinking, marketing, and leadership. A CEO for 22 years, Roberts has an uncompromisingly positive and inspirational leadership style, with an ability to generate ideas and emotional connections that accelerate extraordinary value. His latest book "64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World" offers frameworks and solutions for winning in a business world that has become volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous.

Born and educated in Lancaster in the north of England, Kevin Roberts started his career in the late 1960s with iconic London fashion house Mary Quant. He became a senior marketing executive for Gillette and Procter & Gamble in Europe and the Middle East. At 32, he became CEO of Pepsi-Cola Middle East; and later Pepsi’s CEO in Canada, over-taking Coke in the ‘Cola Wars.’ In 1989, Kevin moved to Auckland, New Zealand, to become Chief Operating Officer with Lion Nathan, growing the company to become the region’s leading brewer.

From 1997 to 2014 Kevin was New York-based CEO Worldwide at Saatchi & Saatchi, one of the world’s leading creative organizations, with responsibility for the effectiveness of several of the world’s leading advertising budgets including for clients Toyota and Procter & Gamble. He retired as Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi in 2016. For 16 years he was a member of the Management Board of Publicis Groupe, the Paris-based global communications group active in 108 countries and employing 80,000 professionals, as it grew from the world’s seventh-largest communications group to the third.

Roberts advises national organizations and global brands across commerce, media and sport. He has honorary appointments and doctorates at a number of universities. He is Honorary Professor of Creative Leadership at Lancaster University (England), Honorary Professor of Innovation and Creativity at the University of Auckland Business School (New Zealand), and Honorary Professor of Leadership and Innovation at the University of Victoria School of Business (Canada). With academic colleagues, he wrote Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World’s Top Sporting Organizations, an inspiration-driven business theory and practice. In 2004, he wrote Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands, a ground-breaking business book published in 18 languages, showing how emotion can inspire businesses and brands to deliver sustainable value. Lovemarks was named one of the ten Ideas of the Decade by Advertising Age in 2009. His 2005 book Sisomo (for sight, sound and motion) explored the future of the screen age.

In 2013, Kevin, a New Zealand citizen, was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to business and the community. Currently, he is business ambassador for the New Zealand United States Council and Chair of the following organisations: My Food Bag (New Zealand home food delivery service); and The Herdy Company (UK homeware and accessories retailer). He sits on the board of UK grocer Booths.

He has made presentations to business audiences in 60 countries, with a San Francisco technology reviewer noting, “Kevin Roberts was arguably more entertaining and more informative than any other speaker, speaking about any other subject, anywhere. That is saying a lot, but during the hour of his speech, there was nowhere else in the world that I would have rather been than in his audience.”

Speech Topics

Creative Leadership in the Age of Now

In business, reengineering and restructuring and re-everything only add incremental growth. Rigid process-driven organizations need to act more intuitively and instinctively – and be driven by ideas, not rules, believes Kevin Roberts. Creativity, he says, is today’s most important leadership quality to cope with growing complexity. However, creative leaders are not a common breed. Roberts talks about how to find them and cultivate them, and frames his model of creative leadership – the next radical order for solving problems, increasing competitiveness, accelerating brands, driving business results, and winning in an always-on world. In the Age of Now, he says, creative leaders thrive and flourish. “We live in a VUCA world and it’s the people who make it Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Astounding who are tasked and ready to win.”

The Future of Engagement: Big Data + Big Emotion

Over the last decade, the marketing landscape has changed – and continues to change – exponentially as marketers and consumers both become more sophisticated, technologically adept, price-smart and increasingly conscious of the impact of a good reputation. This tech-led empowerment will only grow as the “Internet of Things” connects everything to everyone; it scrutinizes our daily lives down to the moment, and allows companies to access and use ever-more data – location, interests, purchasing and search histories – to tailor messages and advertisements. However, Big Data is merely rational, explains Kevin Roberts. It gives marketers an incredible ability to draw patterns, identify interest and even attempt to predict future action. It does not help create loyalty or provide understanding of human value or emotional reasoning. Roberts discusses why data doesn’t mean anything without empathy, and explores how marketers must leverage both to build “loved brands.” After all, Big Data can read the lines, but not between them.

Turn Your Brand Into a Lovemark

Brands are running out of juice, says Kevin Roberts. Love – the powerful emotional connection between companies, their people and their brands – is the key to long-term success and unwavering customer loyalty. After all, humans live by their emotions; it’s how we make decisions and run our lives. Business needs love, he emphasizes. Drawing from recognized real-world examples – Nike, Starbucks, IKEA, Coca-Cola – Roberts explores the story of Lovemarks, a concept he coined a decade ago that has since transformed the future of marketing, and explains how and why it is relevant to any endeavor (not just marketing) – and any person – that draws on the value of ideas. The ultimate goal of every business leader is to make their organization a Lovemark

Love On the Edge

Kevin Roberts shares his ideas to help New Zealand Pinot Noir thrive in a competitive world market. To create and sustain premium margins, Kevin highlights the importance of making Lovemarks, investing in global marketing from the edge, thinking from the "shelf back" to reach the heart of the consumer, and building participation.

Making It In Today's Post Catastrophic World

Kevin Roberts shares with young people, ideas on chasing their dreams and living a fulfilling life. The speech covers the importance of thinking with the heart, living for ideas, and heading to the radically-optimistic edge.

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