GSW's Gerbig dead at 66; put Columbus on the map for medical advertising
Gerbig, who passed away in Florida on Monday due to cardiovascular complications, is survived by his wife Teri Walker Gerbig, three adult children and two step-children. He started out in pharmaceuticals with Marion Merrell-Dow in 1969 before moving on to Abbott Labs' Ross Products Division, where he became the youngest product manager in the company and was promoted, four years later, to director of pharmaceutical product management. He left Abbott to launch Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer & Associates with Rick Weisheimer and Chris Snell in 1977.
The Westerville, Ohio-based firm quickly established itself as a creative powerhouse and was became the flagship shop of the Inchord indie agency network, which was acquired by Ventiv in 2005. Gerbig retired in 2000 but kept busy with his Gerbig, Snell/Weisheimer Healthcare Initiative, a non-profit that provides prescription drugs and healthcare services to struggling seniors. He also served on the boards of The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute and the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, as well as doing a stint as business and industry chairman for the Central Ohio Heart Association. He was a member of the Center of Science and Industry's leadership campaign committee and a founding director of Cardinal Health (whose founder and longtime CEO Robert Walter is the father of InVentiv chief Blane Walter).
“He was not only a consummate professional and visionary, he was also a consummate family man,” said InVentiv's Walter. “Bob's drive not only spearheaded innovative practices, he forever changed the industry by proving that an advertising agency does not need to be based in New York or Chicago to be successful.”
Karen Kasich, wife of Ohio Governor John Kasich and a former GSW employee, said “Bob lived large, and he loved larger. For the governor and me, he was like one of our Great Lakes: so calm on the surface, but so deep below.”
The firm, which last year absorbed sibling shop Stonefly and launched a digital development shop, iQ, employs around 500 in the US, along with another 200 throughout Australia, Japan, Russia, the Middle East, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.—Matthew Arnold