If AOL’s new brand identity “Aol.” looks like something the old AOL wouldn’t do, maybe that’s because it’s the work of a very new employee: AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s 27-year-old chief of staff, Maureen Sullivan.
Brand consultants Wolff Olins did a lot of the creative work, but an AOL spokesperson tells us, “Since we don’t have a CMO on board, [Maureen] was the driver behind this rebranding effort from AOL’s side, working with and directing Wolff Olins.”
In many ways, Maureen — a Stanford grad whose father coaches the school’s baseball team — embodies the new AOL.
She’s young, she’s from Google, and her current job is much bigger than her old one.
Like a lot of ex-Googlers at AOL, she’s sometimes resented by the old guard — by the people who end the joke: “How do you become an AOL VP?” with the punchline: “Quit your assistant product manager job at Google.”
Told that a 27-year-old led the company’s re-branding, one source close to AOL, reacted: “If your reporting is true and this was led by someone who never did a campaign like this before — that is sort of a big story so close to the spin.”
At Google, Maureen was Tim Armstrong’s administrative assistant. As his very first hire at AOL, that title changed to “chief of staff.” In a memo to AOL employees last July, Tim described Maureen’s responsibilities as “overseeing executive strategy and planning, including our weekly reviews of partners, deals and updates from the executive team.” He wrote that Maureen was “also working with legal, finance, HR and communications to coordinate efforts relating to the separation.”
Known then as Maureen Marquess (she changed her name when she married a 27-year-old Goldman Sachs associate named Thomas Sullivan in August), Maureen was widely admired during her time at Google. “She is great,” says one ex-Googler. “Excellent choice by Tim,” says another.
But even these sources are surprised to see how fast she’s risen at AOL. “I am surprised this would be her purview,” said one, in a way that sounded more impressed than alarmed. “She moved up pretty fast.”
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