Suzanne Robinson reveals how Carterbench founder Rob Kay came to win the coveted I.D.I.O.T. Award

Suzanne Robinson, Carterbench, Rob Kay, I.D.I.O.T. Award

Suzanne you’re the latest recipient of the I.D.I.O.T. Award – but not the first from Carterbench?!
Yes, that’s right… Rob Kay was very proudly a previous I.D.I.O.T. alumni back in 2005. Rob Kay was the Managing Director at Carterbench, and I was privileged to work with Rob between 1988 and 2014.

That being the case, Suzanne, what’s Rob’s background? How did he come to co-found Carterbench?
Rob’s background was in advertising. He’d co-founded Carterbench in the mid 1970s… At that time, Carterbench had one of the largest media spends in the UK toy industry, working with clients such as Bluebird Toys and Denys Fisher.

You mentioned that when we did an interview with about your winning the I.D.I.O.T.! People can read that here… So how and why did the company’s focus switch from advertising to product design?!
With the experience and knowledge he’d attained, Rob decided in the mid 1980’s to design and develop product ideas himself. He set up a separate product development division to the agency.

Suzanne Robinson, Carterbench, Rob Kay, I.D.I.O.T. Award

I just think that’s amazing! What were some of the early toy and game successes that really put Carterbench – and Rob – on the map?
You’re really taking us back! By the early 1990s the name Carterbench was becoming synonymous with innovative and creative toy and game design. Our international profile in the toy industry grew…

Under Rob’s leadership, some of our biggest successes at that time came with Waddington Games and Fisher-Price. The most notable products were probably Cabbage Patch Kids Babblin Doll with Mattel and the highly successful Mega Rig line of vehicles for Matchbox.

Brilliant! And in winning the I.D.I.O.T. Award, Rob joined a very select group of people. Why did he win it, do you think?
Rob had a great eye for product which was proven in his success over the years… And a wonderful sense of fun. These things combined to make him a really worthy winner!!

Good answer. Thank you. Who presented him with the award? What did they say in the preamble?
Rob received his award from Tina Zinter Snr VP at Fisher-Price. She made the journey from East Aurora to London especially to present the award to Rob! Tina talked about Rob being a special person in the industry, one who – at that time – made a significant contribution for over 30 years.

Suzanne Robinson, Carterbench, Rob Kay, I.D.I.O.T. Award

He amassed a creative team that remained loyal to the company for many years which said a lot about what a great leader of people he was. Tina also talked about Rob’s great eye for product and his great sense of humour… He always had a funny joke to tell!

And what did Rob say when he accepted? Whom did he thank?
Rob’s acceptance speech was very warm and heartfelt. It was clear how proud and pleased he was to be acknowledged. He thanked the Committee, of course, and asked himself why he’d stayed in the industry for such a long time, and that the answer was right in front of him – the people he’d worked with over the years! He also made a special tribute to his team at Carterbench.

Which would still be an apposite tribute – your team’s been together for decades! So Rob was proud, he was pleased. How else did he feel about winning the award? What does it mean to him today?
Rob was delighted to win the award; it meant the world to him! He would wear his medal with pride at each of the subsequent Inventor Dinners that he attended. The trophy and the medal still take centre position on our shelves among the other awards received over the years… And Rob always talks about them with affection when he visits the office!

Wonderful. That’s brilliant, Suzanne – thank you so much for talking about Rob’s win. And please do pass on our regards when next you speak to him.

Suzanne Robinson, Carterbench, Rob Kay, I.D.I.O.T. Award

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