NEW YORK Robert Palmer, founder and former chairman of media services shop RJ Palmer, died last Friday at the age of 74, the agency confirmed. The cause of death was a blood infection. He retired from the agency in 2007.
Palmer established the namesake shop in 1979, and the agency says it was the first stand-alone media shop to be created in the U.S. His advertising career began at Kenyon & Eckhart and he later moved to Cunningham & Walsh. He worked in the media department at both agencies, eventually becoming director of media and TV programming and a member of Cunningham’s board of directors.
From Cunningham, Palmer joined Kelly-Nason as evp and marketing director and later was promoted to president and CEO. He served in that capacity from 1970-78. During that period, the agency grew from $10 million in billings to $140 million, which made it one of the fastest=growing agencies in the 1970s.
In addition to his agency career, Palmer was a well-regarded vintner on Long Island, N.Y., where he established Palmer Vineyards in Aquebogue in 1983. Through his work on the Long Island Wine Council, he helped the region’s wine industry become a nationally known enterprise. His own label was served in restaurants across the country as well as on American Airlines.
Palmer, a resident of Huntington, N.Y., was born Robert J. Prignano in Queens, N.Y., but later changed his name for professional reasons, the agency confirmed.
In addition to his wife of 50 years, Lorraine, daughters Lori Hendricks, Kathy LeMorzellec and Barbara Prignano-D’Acunto and their respective families, including three grandsons, survive Palmer. All reside in the Long Island area.
RJ Palmer is a full-service media agency headquartered in New York. It is privately held with billings in excess of $645 million, an agency representative said.