Susan Fowler Credle ’85, global chief creative officer of advertising giant FCB and a creative powerhouse in the field, will deliver the 2018 Spring Commencement address to graduates of the UNC School of Media and Journalism on Saturday, May 12, at 3:30 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.
Credle — a 1985 graduate of the MJ-school who grew up dividing her time between North and South Carolina — couldn’t swing a summer trip to Europe after graduation. Instead, she flew a discount airline one-way to New York City, landing a job as “bathroom-break girl” for the receptionists at legendary advertising agency BBDO, with a side job checking coats at a restaurant nearby. Over the next 24 years at BBDO, she navigated her way to executive vice president for creative, drawing comparisons to the fictionalized Peggy Olson character from AMC’s period drama Mad Men.
At BBDO, Credle created award-winning work, including the reinvented M&M “spokescandies” — Credle herself voiced the sexy green M&M character — and other clients like the fresh-to-market Cingular Wireless. Cingular was founded in 2000 and put on the map by BBDO during the 2001 Super Bowl, helping to build a brand valued at over $9 billion by the time Cingular was acquired by AT&T Wireless in 2007.
In 2009, global advertising agency Leo Burnett Worldwide convinced Credle to join them in Chicago. There, her efforts to grow a collaborative environment and nurture new and existing clients created unforgettable advertising efforts such as the Allstate Insurance “Mayhem” campaign and Secret’s anti-bullying “Mean Stinks” initiative.
Six years later, FCB CEO Carter Murray invited Credle back to New York as his creative partner, naming her global chief creative officer in January 2016. A coveted leadership position, the FCB post affords Credle a powerful global platform with more than 8,000 people across 120 offices in 80 countries.
“People, place and purpose," she announced at the time. "These are the three reasons I am now joining FCB as part of the global leadership team.”
Credle, who first met her future husband when they were toddlers on a playground in Chapel Hill and reunited with him after college on a blind date set up by his mom, still has strong ties to Carolina. She was the first recipient of the MJ-school’s Next Generation Leadership Award in 2008, was inducted into what is now known as the N.C. Media and Journalism Hall of Fame in 2014 and serves on the MJ-school Board of Advisers.
“When I was younger, I was very confused by the concept of The Commencement Speech,” she says. “Weren’t we finishing a chapter of our lives? What about a rousing, good-for-us Completion Speech? The concept of beginning a new chapter was overwhelming to me. Over time, I have learned that between dreaming about the future and reminiscing about the past, there is ‘the moment.’ And this spring, I can’t wait to be in that moment with the graduating class of 2018.”
Additional details about the MJ-school commencement ceremony will be posted at mj.unc.edu/Commencement2018.