LONDON: Bob Barocci, who stepped down as the head of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) early last year, has died at the age of 72.

During his ten years there, he changed the focus and culture of the organisation, building a strong and sustainable business model. Revenues tripled and he encouraged the industry to develop new methods.

Gayle Fuguitt, the current ARF chief executive and president, paid tribute to Barocci: "In 10 years as my predecessor at the helm of the ARF, he built a solid foundation of financial stability and a board of directors that was second to none in the advertising and media research industry."

She described him as "a fierce advocate for truth and objectivity", adding that "He was creative, he was a consummate business man, an 'ad man', a voracious reader, an athlete and a mentor".

Barocci, she said, was ahead of his time in many ways. "He was a global leader before global was popular, he argued for truth and objectivity long before privacy and consumer rights were in vogue. He recognized that the ARF could not stand without a strong financial foundation. He initiated important efforts in neuroscience and data quality."

Mike Waterson, chairman and founder of WARC remembered Barocci with great affection. "I worked closely with Bob for a number of years, bringing the peerless work done by the ARF under his guidance to a worldwide audience," he said.

"I shall always remember him as a wonderfully knowledgeable and stimulating business colleague and friend – sometimes a tough negotiator, but always open, sincere and full of charm. Bob will be long remembered for his contribution to the industry, and long mourned by his many friends."

Barocci began his career at Leo Burnett, rising to become managing director of the London office at the age of 37 and president of Leo Burnett International four years later. He subsequently left to set up MBB and won a Gold Lion at Cannes with the agency's first television commercial.

A later move, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, took him to Young & Rubicam as Area Director for Central and Eastern Europe, where he built a major network of advertising and promotions organisations across eight countries in the former Soviet bloc.

"In his honour we will hold truth and objectivity high, be cautious yet optimistic," said Fuguitt, "believing in a future where insightful research can illuminate a path to growth."

Data sourced from ARF, Advertising Age, Warc