Everyone's Wild About Mary, Even Freeloader

AWNY's Ad Woman of the Year

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The Event: AWNY's Ad Woman of the Year lunch
The Date: March 27, 2007
The Venue: Marriott Marquis, New York
The Crowd: Everyone who loves Mary Baglivo: proud family, cheering friends, fellow Saatchi hacks, adoring clients (from General Mills to JC Penney; Wendy's, it seems, is too new to feel the love), and Maurice Levy via video.
The Food: Cold chicken, cold white beans, cold tapenade, cold asparagus, cold butter, cold iced tea and lukewarm coffee.
The Drinks: Due to an embarrassing mistake, Freeloader missed the cocktails entirely and spent the rest of lunch looking longingly at tablemates' bottles of beer and white-wine spritzers.
The Swag: A red "Every Day Matters" leather notebook from JC Penney.
Mary Baglivo, awash in love and Beatles music.
Mary Baglivo, awash in love and Beatles music.

In Freeloader's continuing quest to actually find a free lunch, we hopped on Saatchi & Saatchi's gravy train for some grub at AWNY's Ad Woman of the Year luncheon. After all, who better to throw a lovefest than the Lovemarks agency itself?

Unfortunately, due to a venue mix-up on the part of the Freeloader, we arrived too late to down a couple of 11 a.m. social lubricants we thought befitting ladies who lunch. We did get a couple seconds to glad-hand celebrant Mary Baglivo, CEO of Saatchi's New York office and pat Saatchi's worldwide creative director on the back. (He was down a hand due to a martial-arts injury mixed with a light case of carpal tunnel. It only gave cause for a small gaggle of ladies to offer to cut up his vittles for him.)

Aside from the "We [heart] MB" invites, the mid-day party was awash in love and Beatles music. All the tables were splashed with red heart confetti and all the tables were packed with honest well-wishers -- a true novelty in the cutthroat, neurotic and more-than-a-little-paranoid advertising world of NYC.

Lunch kicked off with a video of all things Mary, in which her father, journalist Andy Baglivo, called her the only baby born a CEO and said even if he'd won the Pulitzer he'd always wanted, he could not have been more proud. Publicis Groupe's head honcho, Maurice Levy, sent "bravos" from France, calling her "Ad Woman of the World."

Fortunately, Mary's kids were present to keep things from getting too schmaltzy. Her son, John, said this CEO-soccer mom only rests when she falls asleep in front of the TV. Daughter Martha zinged her dear old mum by saying: "She thinks she's funny, which is funny. I guess I got that from her. The only difference is, I am funny." Good call, Martha!

Mary's clients were on hand, ostensibly to roast her. Lynne Boles, Procter & Gamble's VP-global advertising, did manage to provide a rough cut of Mary's early work for detergent brand Ariel. It was proof positive that we all make mistakes. (Fortunately, Ariel can wash most of them away, we learned.) Mark Addicks, CMO at General Mills ("where butter is a spice and gravy is a beverage") and Mike Boylson, exec VP-CMO of the JC Penney, however, might as well have blown kisses in Mary's direction. Then again, Penney's stock price has jumped by about $10 since Saatchi's first work for the brand aired during the Oscars.

For her part, Mary -- queen of tough love and telling it like it is, but tactfully, if you please -- thanked everyone for coming. "I know how much you have to do and how bad you are about coming to these things," she said. Freeloader is beginning to wonder if anybody has as much to do as Mary. With full-time CEO work, full-time momhood, a position on Rutger's board and work with both the Kids Corp. of Newark and the Harlem School of the Arts, we wonder how many hours Ms. Baglivo has in her day. We guarantee it's a lot more than 24.
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