Robert De Wynter
3rd October 1944 - 25th December 2022
By James Charrington, CEO, Dewynters.
We are deeply saddened by the news of Robert De Wynter’s passing over Christmas.
Robert had a huge influence on so many people’s working lives; I am lucky to be one of them. I first heard of him when I was working as an intern in New York in 1989. I was photocopying what looked like agendas for a meeting; I looked closer, and the meeting was to discuss campaign plans for a new show with an agency that specialised in theatre marketing.
I had no idea what a theatre marketing agency did but was intrigued, and asked if there was an agency in London that did the same work. Yes, I was told – Dewynters, run by the already legendary Robert De Wynter and Anthony Pye-Jeary. One month later I was sitting in front of Robert, who grilled me about my experiences on Broadway and offered me my first full time job the next day.
I started work at the end of Veronica Allen’s desk in the Marketing department, spending my days walking the streets of London to put up posters in ticket agents’ windows and ferrying ads between designers and clients. All around me, agency life buzzed with frenetic energy and excitement under the watchful eyes of Robert and Anthony.
Robert’s focus and his ambition for Dewynters was evident every day. Each ad he saw could be improved, each deadline could be stretched, each client could be better served, each show could be sold out. He had a knack for solving problems by immediately bringing people together and pushing for a solution – so much so that the corridors of the agency echoed every ten minutes with Robert’s voice, calling different people into his office over the intercom.
Work went out of the door at an amazing speed – it still does – and Robert saw to it that everything met his and Anthony’s high standards every single day. He was relentlessly innovative and entrepreneurial – always looking for and developing parts of the business that others might not have seen so quickly: media, merchandise, publishing. He was rightly proud of the fact that in the 90s, seven or eight British musicals were touring the US, with Dewynters’ employees running the merchandise for each show in each city.
Behind this ambition and behind his huge personality was a thoughtful, supportive human being. At the end of a long day, as I was drawing breath, Robert would appear at my desk and talk through campaigns, clients and problems, listening and offering advice. It was his guidance and encouragement that gave me confidence in my own potential; I am forever in his debt for this.
Mary Williams, my wonderful boss through the 90s, and I had lunch with Robert just before the pandemic, and it didn’t take long for him to provide feedback on the arts marketing industry of 2020. We could tell how much he had loved the competitive, fast-moving world of theatre marketing and how much he missed it; I hope he knew how profound his influence on it was, over thirty eventful years. His opinion on things matters to me now as much as it did back in 1989, and I am proud to have worked with him.