Dawn Hudson

Former Chief Marketing Officer at the National Football League and Former President and CEO of Pepsi Cola North America
  • Twice named to Fortune magazine’s annual “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” list
  • Legendary marketer known for such phrases as the “Joy of Cola” and the “Pepsi Challenge”
  • Speaks with electricity about the power of marketing and product branding on an industry or organization

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Whether serving as CEO, Chief Marketing Officer, or Chairman of the Board, Dawn Hudson has led an impressive career spanning high-level posts in media, retail, consumer goods, consulting, and healthcare at some of the biggest corporations in the world including the NFL, PepsiCo, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Allergan, PF Chang’s, the LPGA, and NVIDIA. From “Super Bowl Babies” to the return of the “Pepsi Challenge,” Hudson’s track record of success is packed with groundbreaking ideas born of an ability to see what’s around the corner and an expertise in crafting revenue-boosting competitive advantages. For her revolutionary work strengthening brands’ positioning and marketing, tapping into culture change as fuel for innovative business strategies, and championing inclusive leadership and diversity, Hudson has been recognized as the “Most Vital Leader in Tech, Media, and Marketing” by AdWeek—topping a list of 50 industry titans—and twice as one of Fortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business.” She is also a co-author of You Should Smile More: How to Dismantle Gender Bias in the Workplace, which was written to help women navigate the little moments of everyday corporate life, while educating and including men in the conversation as well. Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, she speaks with electricity about the power of brand, how to embrace change and drive innovation, and the importance of strong and inclusive leadership.

Hudson is an advocate of smart reinvention and growth with more than 20 years’ experience at some of the world’s best-known and most-loved brands. She shares insights on turning adversity into an advantage, building a global presence, and why, in today’s business climate, innovation must be central to everything from distribution to selling stories to human capital management. Energetic and engaging, her near-photographic memory and story-telling delivery style allow her to present in a way that at once demonstrates tremendous business savvy and connects with audiences. Asking questions like, “What are your organization’s core capabilities?” and “How can you capitalize on those abilities in a way that’s authentic?”, Hudson imparts valuable insight that helps audiences unlock new ideas, reimagine what’s possible, and take a closer look at short- and long-term value creation strategies.

Ushering In A New Era At The NFL. Hudson assumed her role at the NFL during a climate of controversy and change. Charged with steering the massive brand back on track, Hudson worked to bring more humanity, laughter, and a younger focus to the League through industry-leading advertising efforts (including her many well-received Super Bowl campaigns), an overhaul of events programs to generate fan engagement, and partnering with institutions to develop brand encounters for fans—like the “NFL Experience” operating out of Times Square in New York City.

Prior to the NFL, Hudson was the vice chairman of The Parthenon Group, where she focused on strategic analysis and vision setting, negotiating sports and customer deals, and sharing  growth through brand building and industry-leading innovation.

Voice Of A New Generation’s Drinks. At PepsiCo, Hudson served as CEO of PepsiCo’s $6 billion North American beverage business. She shepherded volume gains across an assortment of products by promoting greater focus on core brands and activities, and by revolutionizing marketing and tie-ins with sports organizations. She played a major role in brand-building and improving sales, manufacturing, and information technology to better serve an evolving retail marketplace. Her

impact on advertising and communications within the beverage industry is legendary. Under her leadership, Pepsi also maintained its status among the most purchased brands in the country.

Accolades. Hudson was twice named to Advertising Age’s list of “Top 50 Marketers” and was additionally named “Advertising Woman of the Year” by Advertising Women of New York. She is inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Achievement.

Additional Affiliations. In addition to her work with the NFL, PepsiCo, and The Parthenon Group, Hudson has served on the boards of Allergan, Lowe’s, NVIDIA, Interpublic Group, and PF Chang’s, and served as Chairman of the Board of the LPGA for two years.

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The Power Of Brand. With the rise of technology and social media, consumers now demand a deeper relationship with brands: It’s no longer enough for a product to just do it’s ‘job,’ the brand it represents must stand for something, have values, and even a ‘soul.’ Here, Dawn Hudson speaks with electricity about the power of marketing and the influence of branding on an industry or organization. With more than 20 years of strategic brand-building experience with some of the world’s best-known and most-loved brands, she shares insights on brand positioning, showing audiences how to tap into their core capabilities and capitalize on in a way that’s authentic to their brand DNA.

Hudson helps groups understand what branding is today, how brands are evaluated, why brand affiliation is not always rational, and how they need to think about building their brand and leveraging their unique brand assets and personality. Hudson shares stories from her time at Pepsi and the NFL while addressing the strategy behind a brand’s point of view, including how its authenticity is reflected in its parent company and how that translates into culture and values for the organization. The presentation is especially beneficial for industries that have not historically thought about their brand and putting the consumer first, but find themselves needing to adapt to this strategic mindset.

Driving Authentic Business Innovation. Dawn Hudson believes that in today’s business environment, innovation must be applied to every aspect of an organization—from distribution to selling stories to human capital management. But to innovate effectively, new ideas, policies, and campaigns must still align with an organization’s core capabilities and brand. With this talk, Hudson reviews the new principles of effective business strategy, and helps audiences understand how to make the leap from status quo to impactful, innovative approaches. Hudson touches on the David vs. Goliath framework developing between incumbents and new startups, and helps groups understand how to use their assets to maximize impact with consumers seeking increasingly customized experiences. Hudson shows groups how to use to internal resources—culture and brand thinking—to power new ideas that respond to culture or business change and move a brand forward.

The Value Of Diversity. As Dawn Hudson explains in this powerful talk, diversity is at the heart of successful modern business models. Diverse points of view and people not only fuel new ways of thinking but also fill gaps or weaknesses that may exist. A champion of diversity throughout her time at the NFL and Pepsi, Hudson believes that empowering diverse voices is a critical aspect of leadership and talent development at any company. Without offering new points of view seats at the table, Hudson explains, organizations have little hope of powering their brand or industry into the future. A blend of anecdotes and best practices, this talk hits on the power of diversity in building smart business strategies, a thriving corporate culture, and leaders for the next generation.

Inclusive Leadership. Throughout her career, Dawn Hudson has worked with and led high-performing teams at major organizations including PepsiCo, the NFL, and worldwide consulting group Parthenon. Here, Hudson draws on real-world examples from successes and failures in her own life to showcase how she brings the best contributions out of team members and gets them functioning at their highest capacity.

She hits on key themes, including:

  • Bringing new voices to the table
  • The importance of diversity as it relates to strong problem-solving
  • Leading through others to magnify a team’s overall strategic direction
  • How to foster qualities that strengthen existing leaders and enable new ones
  • The difference between control and motivational leadership
  • The importance of clarity of purpose and keeping the goal simple

An excellent look at how leaders can better themselves and those around them, Hudson shares her battle-tested perspective on leadership and gives audiences the tools they need to become better leaders, more engaged team-players, and stronger additions to high-functioning teams.

Lessons From Winning & Losing Seasons Of Life. Dawn Hudson shares her inspiring personal life story and the life lessons learned along her journey to success. She highlights the triumphs and failures that helped fuel her trajectory to the most senior levels of organizations including PepsiCo and the NFL. With experience spanning the retail and consumer goods, media, hospitality, healthcare, and technology industries, Hudson touches on her greatest touchdown moments—and her fumbles—and shares what she took away from them all. Humble, funny, and real, Hudson provides valuable takeaways for building an impactful personal or organizational brand, withstanding change and thriving in periods of transformation, and maximizing success by tapping into value systems and unique gifts. Known for her ability to see what’s around the corner, Hudson helps audiences anticipate trends and motivates them to take actions to secure their own competitive advantage.

Marketing To Taste: Creating The “Best” In A Global Marketplace. Every company wants the best product possible, but consumers each have their own preferences—especially as your brand scales. Dawn Hudson tackles the issue of how to reconcile the issue of product superiority (creating a product that’s the ‘best’) when taste is a highly individualistic experience. She believes the answer lies in marketing, as most consumers buy products based on a combination of taste, marketing, and emotional connections to a brand’s personality—rather than on taste alone. Hudson shows her audience how to create a strategy around taste that is consistent with brand value and allows a product to grow, and discusses what it takes to move a product into the global arena. She draws on more than 20 years of global, strategic brand-building experience and applies those lessons to her audience’s organization or industry.

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