NFL Names Pepsi Veteran Dawn Hudson As Its New Chief Marketing Officer

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Dawn Hudson, who rose though the Pepsi ranks to become chief executive of the beverage giant’s North American beverage operations, will become the chief marketing officer of the National Football League, and in doing so will take on a singular assignment: Promoting what may be America’s most popular sport at a time when that wide acclaim seems to be slipping away.

Hudson will start the job next month and report to Commissioner Roger Goodell.  “We are looking forward to working with Dawn, whose experience as a leader and marketer will help further connect the NFL with fans,” Goodell said in a statement. She is not the Dawn Hudson who has served as chief executive of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.

Hudson has unique insight into the NFL’s selling points. Pepsi, after all, has been a big sponsor of the league for years, and has aligned itself with the Super Bowl for decades.She joins the organization when it is in the midst of a public-relations crisis, coming under intense criticism for the way it has handled an act of domestic violence by former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice, as well as for a number of players who have been involved in domestic-violence and abuse incidents in recent weeks. On Friday, Goodell told reporters the NFL’s policies needed to be updated and acknowledged his method of dealing with the Rice scandal was wrong.

For the past five years, Hudson has worked as vice chairman of Parthenon Group, a Boston strategic consulting firm. She has led its consumer practice, focusing on the food, beverage and restaurant sectors. She previously spent 11 years at PepsiCo, where she become president and chief executive of the company’s flagship beverage unit in the U.S. She has also worked at big ad agencies such as DMB&B.