Rhiannon Madden is not just putting out product. She’s giving fans a way to express their passion for their team.
As vice president of consumer products for the National Football League, the Advertising and Marketing Communications grad oversees the development and promotion of all the NFL-branded merchandise for use off the football field. That includes both apparel and hard lines: home décor, tailgating and “homegating” supplies, jewelry, and accessories. She works with a stable of trusted licensees to produce fresh, high-quality designs that are guided by extensive research into fan preferences. She also oversees multiplatform product marketing campaigns that include digital and print advertisements, press events, and sponsorships of influencers, including Giants receiver Sterling Shepard and model Chanel Iman.
“We’re always trying to have product that our fans would be wearing whether it had a logo or not,” she says. “If you have a great silhouette and handfeel, all the better.”
Though she has long been a football fan, Madden attended FIT to work in the fashion business. She interned at WWD and W magazine and worked at a Seventh Avenue showroom, then moved to Boston to work at an internet publication covering high school sports. In 2001, she was offered a job at NFL headquarters in New York.
The FIT collaboration is not the first time she has infused the game with high style. To celebrate Super Bowl 50 in 2016, she worked with the CFDA, commissioning 50 designers to create beautifully ornamented footballs that were auctioned off for charity.
Madden finds that branded product is especially important for fans who can’t make it to games or those who have moved away from their hometown. “It’s almost like a community, when you see another fan of your team,” she says. “It’s another way for fans to connect to the game.”