Kevin Roberts Feeling The Love

The invitation to Kevin Roberts’ book launch party last week was a wine-stained napkin on which he scrawled his “Lovemarks” theory of brand attachment. “Lovemarks began over a bottle of Bordeaux in a restaurant,” the Saatchi & Saatchi CEO wrote in the upper-left-hand corner. The book itself, Lovemarks, was sent to some partygoers in what looked like a box of chocolates.

There were no such flourishes at the party, which was a low-key affair at Roberts’ minimalist TriBeCa apartment. About 100 friends and colleagues—including former boss Mary Quant, mother of the miniskirt—toasted Roberts, who, like his favorite rugby team, New Zealand, wore black.

Roberts, 54, sounded off on a variety of topics broached by Shoptalk, including the book (it took two years to write), dealing with bad reviews (“I’d like them all to be great, but I didn’t write this for the reviews”) and the state of advertising (“We’ve lost confidence and faith in the power of the idea”).

Given an opening to knock M&C Saatchi’s plan for an IPO, Roberts offered only kind words. “The agency that I inherited, I’ve kept all the good things that those guys put together, and frankly, I wish them well.” Asked to size up the presidential candidates as brands, he responded: “Kerry’s got a clean slate, and he’s going to be able to define himself over the next six or seven months. … Bush is the incumbent, and it’s like being in a new-business pitch—you are what you are.”

A bit of the old Roberts color flashed as he reflected on Saatchi: “We’re a packaged-goods agency. I’ve got to break out of that. I want to move from a farmer to a hunter.”