Weaving stories of high-level brand negotiations with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell along with her avid belief on the power of promotional products, Dawn Hudson, the chief marketing officer of the NFL, keynoted last week’s 10th annual ASI Power Summit.
“It’s a revelation, the power of a T-shirt,” Hudson told her audience of distributor and supplier principals, in reference to the joy she sees when she gives somebody a shirt with an NFL team logo or the NFL shield on it. “It connects people to what they love, and provides lasting memories.”
In a wide-ranging speech, Hudson detailed how the NFL depends on promotional products to spread its message and that of its teams. When her group plans out Super Bowls and other major events like the NFL Draft, they approach the merchandise in a way that will ensure consumers remember where they were and when. It’s all based on the value of experiences, said Hudson, who had been the president and CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America prior to joining the NFL two years ago.
“Experience is a buzzword today, but it’s really important because you help to create lasting memories of those experiences through the promotional products that you provide,” Hudson said to the Power Summit audience full of promotional products professionals. “It’s a vital reminder for how you should position yourself. You’re creating lasting and valuable memories that people can’t get just through a picture or video.”
The key, Hudson said, is that promotional merchandise creates a higher-level connection to experiences and memories than just about anything else possible. “As the makers and sellers of these products, you offer people a memento that has so much more meaning because it was part of an experience. That’s a message that you should be spreading as much as possible. It should be part of your marketing and your positioning. That’s what the end-user values, and you always need to keep that person in mind when targeting your own clients.”
Hudson, the leader behind one of America’s biggest marketing machines in the world, also touched on the importance of customization today. People expect to be catered to, no matter what they’re buying, she said. “Find out what your end consumer wants the most, and give that to them at the right time. Timing is also important. So, promotional products need to have a clear message, but they also need to be time-appropriate so that the end consumer receives it when they’re most apt to have a good memory or experience with the event they’re attending. Ultimately, you’re selling an experience, not stuff. But you can only sell the experience if you’re completely aware of what you’re end consumer wants and desires.”
Plus, it’s ok to make mistakes in your marketing and sales efforts, Hudson said. “You can and should learn from what doesn’t work,” she said. “Don’t ever be afraid to change how you do things and how you approach your business.”
Here’s an excerpt from Dawn Hudson’s speech at the ASI Power Summit.