Born: February 4, 1961;

Died: June 1, 2020.

GUY Robertson, one of Scotland’s highest-profile marketing and advertising agency owners, has died at the age of 59 after suffering head injuries sustained during a fall.

It is rare that a person’s end of life serves as a metaphor for the way he went about the business of life, but Robertson is certainly such an example.

Robertson, who in the mid-Eighties set up one of Scotland’s most successful advertising agencies, had been taking a stroll in Glasgow’s Dawsholm Park, en route to meet his father, Colin. Finding himself on the wrong path – the higher one he wanted ran parallel to it – he took a short-cut up a steep wooded bank, rather than doubling back and wasting time. But he lost his footing, grabbed at the wrong branch for support and fell backwards.

Guy Robertson would have been compelled to take the faster, if riskier, route. His friends and family agree he simply wasn’t in the business of wasting a second of his time on earth. “That was certainly the case,” says Colin, a retired chartered surveyor. “Guy was all about moving forward. And he never did anything by halves. He wasn’t born with a hernia, he was born with a double hernia. And he was impulsive, always going a little too fast.”

Literally, as it turns out; the teenage Guy once managed to write off his father’s partner’s car. “But he had this great energy and enthusiasm, which was one of the reasons he was so popular with so many people.”

As children, Robertson and his siblings Grant and Lynne moved with their parents from Glasgow’s West End to Bearsden. He attended Kelvinside Academy between 1971 and 1979. “Those were turbulent times”, he would recall in an Evening Times interview, “what with the three-day week, strikes, power cuts and massive shifts in society and Government, not to mention Scotland’s ill-fated expedition to Argentina for the ’78 World Cup. Kelvinside Academy in those days was an austere place, ruled by a headmaster with a rod of iron, or, in his case a particularly well-honed belt.”

Yet, looking back, he loved his school experience. He certainly loved studying English – Arthur Miller’s The Crucible was a favourite – and subjects such as economics, which opened scope for debate. (He hated maths, failing his Higher twice.) And in later life he would join the school Trust, offering support and encouragement to pupils.

During summer breaks in Loch Fyne, his father says, he showed a real capacity for hard work, whether brashing the plantations – removing the lower branches of conifer trees – for five pence a tree or, later, working as a brickie’s labourer. When he left school his career path was unclear but his father nudged him into a placement in 1980 with Grant Forrest Advertising. Robertson loved this world of ideas and the challenge of developing clients’ profiles.

In 1985 he joined Halton Advertising as branch manager, but the office closed a year later and he was made redundant. “He came to our house and told me the news,” his father says. “He was pretty despondent. But I suggested he make a call to all of Halton’s clients in Glasgow and enquire about future representation.” His son did exactly that, and signed most of them to his own agency, the Guy Robertson Partnership.

The team grew to feature three partners and 45 employees, with Robertson bringing an open-necked (often pink) shirt flair to business – and the same heady excitement he had displayed when riding dirt bikes as a teenager around Loch Fyne. Before long he had landed a £4 million partnership with Toyota GB.

In 1989, he married businesswoman Laura Sommerville and the couple had a daughter, Jemma. He became a Scottish Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Chairman of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), and one of the major players in the Glasgow media scene.

He found time to play football twice a week, become a member of Glasgow Golf Club, and stand as President of the Young Rotary Club. Loquacious and outgoing, he also enjoyed his favourite West End bars. It Is fair to say that he did not focus as much time on his marriage. “Yet, it ended amicably”, says his father. “And Guy didn’t wait to be told by lawyers how much he should offer to pay.”

By his own admission, however, Robertson did make a major business error. After the financial crash of 2008 he refused to cut staff numbers, despite losing many of his blue-chip clients. By 2011, having lost the Toyota account, the business had to be would up.

He announced at the time; “Sadly, [I have] to report the demise of GRP, the advertising and design business I started back in 1986 (remember those hedonistic and heady email-free days of full commission, meaty mark-ups and boozy lunches?), which my partners and I ran pretty successfully for more than 23 out of the next 25 years.” But no-one in advertising was surprised to see him re-emerge with a smaller, leaner agency, Guy Robertson Advertising. And when his daughter, now a marketing graduate, joined the company he discovered a whole new level of enthusiasm for the business.

Given his popularity in the Glasgow media world, there was little surprise at the scale of the reaction to his untimely death. Hundreds of friends turned up outside Kelvinside Academy to hear a schoolboy piper play a tribute to the former pupil. “People liked to be around Guy,” says his father. “He had that level of charisma. He worked hard for charities such as NABS [a support organisation for people in advertising and media]. But even I was stunned at just how many turned out to remember him.”

His best friend, Cameron Grant, added: “He was one of the most loyal friends imaginable. In good times, Guy was first to the bar – and in less good times, he was still first to the bar. If you ask me what drove him I’d say he loved to get up in the morning - and work at a job he was born to do. And he loved people. That’s why work contacts became friends. You couldn’t not want to be in Guy Robertson’s company”

Guy Robertson is survived by his partner, Angela Wood, his father Colin, daughter Jemma, and his brother and sister.