NFL appoints female CMO amid domestic violence scandal

The National Football League (NFL) has named former PepsiCo senior marketer Dawn Hudson as its chief marketing officer as it tries to quell fan and sponsor fears it does not take domestic violence seriously.

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Hudson joins the NFL at a time when sponsors and fans are concerned it does not take domestic abuse seriously.

Hudson joins the business next month when she will take charge of the development and activation of the marketing strategy for the league. She is to report to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

She replaces Mark Waller, who has recently returned to his previous role overseeing the NFL’s international expansion, focusing on the UK.

The timing of the announcement, just days after the NFL hired four female consultants to improve domestic abuse and sexual abuse policies, suggests the organisation is attempting to show fans and sponsors how seriously it views the recent domestic violence allegations aimed at its players.

Sponsors Procter & Gamble and AB InBev alongside women’s advocacy groups have criticised NFL chiefs for being too lenient in its initial reaction to a domestic violence incident involving Baltimore Raven’s star Ray Rice and his wife. The concerns have been compounded by the recent arrests of other players for wrongdoing including child abuse and aggravated assault.

The fallout from the incident casts a shadow over the league’s three-game international series, which starts at Wembley this weekend. However, to date much of the media attention has been focused in the US where the league and its players are household names.

Perceptions of the league are showing signs of improvement following a dip in the immediate aftermath of the scandal, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex. Women rather than men have driven the upturn with league’s Reputation scoring -9 for the former compared to -30 for the latter.

Hudson’s appointment sees her resume old ties to the league first formed while she worked at its sponsor Pepsi in the early noughties. During her 11 years at PepsiCo, she held several senior positions including president and chief executive of Pepsi Cola in North America. Most recently, Hudson has spent the last five years as vice chairman of business consultants the Panthenon Group.

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