How an unconventional journey to the C-suite of major ad agencies led to finding personal brand purpose
I remember Mary Baglivo in our Rutgers days as fun but focused. Yup, there are stories I can tell. But the stories we focus on in this episode are how she turned her intellectual curiosity, which skewed more to classes in Art History than Business, into a career that included running three major ad agencies and earning innumerable industry accolades.
An aspiring writer trying to make it in New York, Mary took a job at an ad agency. While learning on the go she caught the advertising bug, so much so that she moved from Madison Avenue to grad school followed by an ad agency gig in the Windy City that she couldn’t refuse.
That determination, and a knack for helping develop distinctive ad campaigns and insight-based marketing strategies, was recognized pretty quickly and helped her thrive in a male-dominated industry. She ultimately held President and C-level positions at leading global advertising agencies like JWT, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Euro RSCG Chicago.
“Defining a ‘brand’ is challenging. Clarifying your own brand is super important. A brand is more than its product attributes, obviously. It’s more than what it looks like. It’s certainly more than what an influencer portrays. It’s definitely got to be emotional, and probably involve all the senses in some way, shape, or form.”
After years of developing consumer brands like credit cards and cereal, Mary found her personal brand purpose – using her marketing expertise to help universities, museums, and foundations communicate their purpose. Now, in addition to running the Baglivo Group – with a focus on key client Pace University – she is a sitting board member for multiple organizations, including the New York Women’s Foundation, and is intent on lifting up other women in business!
“The key job of a CEO is to make sure that their people are feeling good, are happy and motivated, and have the opportunities to learn.”
Mary and I dig into:
An explanation of brand purpose and how it differs from but informs brand identity
The moving target elements today of a solid brand campaign
The increased consumer mandate for purpose and ESG and the question of how/if that can be marketed
Can a person be a “brand” and how that applies to good leadership.
The best advice she received as a leader
How observing and working for people like “the most powerful woman in advertising,” Charlotte Beers, shaped her own leadership style and career
Her work with the Block and its impact on diversity messaging through art
The time and place for AI – yes, even in classrooms.
When Robyn Streisand went from the client side to her own marketing agency, The Mixx, the opportunity to certify as a woman-owned or LBGT-owned business did not exist. 25 years later, she has helped both brands as well as other agency owners to leverage DEI — Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — in media and marketing. Part of that help came about through her creation of Titanium Worldwide, billed as “the world’s first collective of certified-diverse independent agencies,” to help make DEI more easily “front and center” for clients.
Given today’s times with its heightened sensibilities, she couldn’t have been a better move if she’d had a crystal ball. After all, marketing comes down to “People… People Who Need People” to buy things… And embracing people of all stripes and varieties to drive business opportunities is what Streisand does flawlessly.
The value of certifications — for business owners to the brands who are seeking diverse suppliers — from WBENC, which certifies businesses as woman-owned and operated, to NGLCC (the ‘LBGT Chamber of Commerce’), to the NMSDC, which has the largest number of certified minority-run businesses;
“Now I have a certificate that says I’m woman-owned or I’m gay owned and all of a sudden, it’s a new day. It gave us an opportunity to register our company in these portals that help diverse suppliers get found [by Fortune 1000 companies.]”
How the rise in both consumer demand and procurement department mandates that purpose be built into marketing created a bit of a COVID silver lining for The Mixx and Titanium
Examples of brands embracing DEI — and how the anniversary of Stonewall sparked the start of more and more inclusive marketing efforts around more and more groups
How pressure from the streets is being matched by pressure from The Street — Wall Street!
The added pressure to recognize the power of Gen Z which “is coming like a bat outta hell!”
The essential need to communicate authentic brand purpose
“The benchmarks of success around purpose “must be front and center on brand websites: ‘We see you. We appreciate you. We embrace you. We stand for gender parity, transgender, equality’…all of it. Like, now’s not the time to be living in Alabama.”
Where brands are focusing their dollars — or not
Advice and caveats for the future, which include:
“I think it’s like ripping the band-aid off. You have to start somewhere. But this is a long game. This is about doing the right thing now for the long haul. Invest in diversity, equity and inclusion training programs. Invest in what matters to the broader audience. Talk to people in their voice, and be consistent and authentic about it. It’s not about how much you do, it’s that you do it, do it well, and do it consistently.”
Why Streisand describes work around sustainability as the 2.0 of DEI.
And don’t miss the answer to the big question: Will I actually dare to sing to a member of the Streisand clan?
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