2008 Silver Award


Walt Roberts
Founder, Roberts Communications

Walt Roberts

Walt Roberts came to town from Cleveland’s Fuller, Smith and Ross. He landed first at Rumrill working for Charlie Rumrill (before it became Rumrill-Hoyt) as a copy-contact person, which means, as Walt puts it, “A writer with enough clean clothes to call on clients.”

He worked on the Kodak business at Rumrill and helped it grow four-fold during his tenure there. Walt started Darcy/Roberts in 1967. In 1971, he opened Roberts Communications. Walt purposely did not call his new agency “Roberts Advertising.” He realized early on that it would take more than just advertising to persuade people to buy a product or to create genuine change in the marketplace.

In doing so, he may have created Rochester’s first truly integrated communications company - long before it became trendy or was discovered by Madison Avenue. Walt was always first in many ways. He was the first person to introduce computers to the agency and the first to get an internet connection in his office. Walt is a lively raconteur and a provocative thinker, always asking why and why not.

In addition to being a contemporary of such Rochester advertising legends as Charlie Rumrill and Frank Hutchins, Walt also hired, inspired, and trained some notable local all-stars: Ted Crouch, Mike Perri, Paul Debes, Bob Looney, Paul Hudson, Bill Murtha, Steve Crabbe, Julie Wegman, and Mike Osborn, to name a few.

Walt’s writing, thinking, and leadership were evident in the strategy and creative work for clients including Kodak Copiers/Duplicators, Tobin First Prize Meats, Champion Products, Central Trust Bank, State Bank of Albany, Ithaca Gun, Norma Ammunition, Sampo Reels, Winchester, Dan Wesson Arms, and Ryobi.

The success of one of Rochester’s oldest, continuously named shops is certainly due to the man whose name is on the door and whose legacy of teachings continues to inspire.

Walt’s Wisdom:

Work hard.

Love the client, love the product, love the creative work.

Pretend the client’s money is your own (and do the right thing with it.)

Figure out what needs to be changed in the marketplace and in people’s minds.

Be intrusive.

Advertising is the last thing any client needs—first he needs someone who understands his problems.

Selling is teaching. Buying is learning.

Do what works, not what the agency makes money at—and the money will come.