Purple Profile: IMC alumna brings advertising experience to new global marketing post

Mary Baglivo (Medill '81) was hired last month as Northwestern's vice president for global marketing and chief marketing officer. Baglivo came to NU from a stint as the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide.

Courtesy NU Alumni Relations

Mary Baglivo (Medill '81) was hired last month as Northwestern's vice president for global marketing and chief marketing officer. Baglivo came to NU from a stint as the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide.

Mark Ficken, Reporter

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After almost 30 years as an advertising executive, Mary Baglivo is returning to Northwestern as the school’s first chief marketing officer with plans to move beyond traditional marketing to communicate the NU experience.

Baglivo, who earned her master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from NU in 1981, was CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi from 2004 to 2008, when she added a role as CEO of the Americas division.

Under her leadership, the global advertising company helped launch Lenovo Computers in America after the firm’s acquisition of IBM’s PC division in May 2005. Since then, Lenovo’s stock price has risen 135 percent, making it the largest PC manufacturer in the world.

In approaching her new position, Baglivo said her first goal is to help develop a “compelling and cohesive” brand for the University. She said she wants to move beyond traditional marketing strategies and communicate NU’s brand through the different experiences of the community, including students, faculty, alumni and potential applicants.

Although Baglivo has ideas, she said the first thing she is going to do is hear those of others.

“I really want to make sure I listen and then develop a cohesive point of view that other stakeholders really believe and buy into and then ultimately choose what our execution will be,” she said.

Baglivo compared the collaborative nature of advertising agencies to that of NU.

“I think that the kinds of people that work in agencies are eclectic like the many various kinds of talented people that work in a university,” she said.

In addition to the Lenovo launch, Baglivo worked on campaigns for General Mills, Miller Brands, Procter & Gamble, J.C. Penney and Wendy’s. It was during her tenure she was named the New York Advertising Woman of the Year for her quick thinking and leadership.

Baglivo’s position was created after a committee formed by University President Morton Schapiro assessed the University’s branding and image. The committee recommended two major improvements: working on NU’s brand position and hiring someone with experience from the field to lead this change.

Provost Dan Linzer said the University’s past branding had been too disconnected.

“We were telling school-specific stories better than the university story,” Linzer said. “We didn’t have anyone bringing (the schools) together and saying, ‘Well, what’s similar about your messages, and how do we tell that in a unified way?’”

Baglivo said she was initially drawn to the new position because she felt she had the experience necessary to be successful — and because of her deep affection for her alma mater.

“I have a lot of respect for the place and what it has achieved, and I really do think that, at its core, a university does very significant, highly valued things for the world in terms of research, findings and meaningful artistic developments,” she said.

Baglivo said her connection to NU keeps bringing her back to campus. She was a member of the Board of Trustees and her son graduated from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in 2012.

Linzer said this dedication to the school was exactly what the committee was looking for.

“We didn’t want to hire someone from outside who would have to come in and learn about (Northwestern) but someone who had it in her bones,”‘ he said. “She got it.”

Overall, Baglivo is looking forward to her tenure at NU.

“I’m excited about it, and I think the achievements that the University has made … are really impressive,” she said. “It’s really great to be in this position to work with something that performs well as a starting point. That I am thrilled about.”

Email: markficken2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @mark_ficken


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