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World Surf League snags top marketers from Nike and the NFL ahead of sport's Olympic debut

The World Surf League (WSL) has hired Nike marketing veteran Pri Shumate as its chief marketing officer, while the NFL UK’s head of marketing, Sarah Swanson, has been named senior vice-president of strategic insights and consumer growth.

Surfing and its associated organizations are already experiencing a boon in brand marketer interest before the sport makes its debut at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Shumate replaces former chief marketing officer Will Chignell, who resigned in April, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Shumate previously ran marketing for Nike’s global running business and departs after 17 years with the sportwear brand. Working out of Portland, Oregon, she previously led the company’s marketing activity throughout the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and headed up its surfing brand, Hurley, as chief marketing officer.

In a statement, Shumate said she was “honored and super excited” to take on the same role at the WSL.

“There's never been a better moment or opportunity to share what makes surfing so special with the world,” said the marketer. "I've approached every role I've ever had from the perspective of the consumer, in this case, the athletes, fans and people who love surfing, both the sport and culture.

“I can't wait to dive in and get to know them better so that, as a team and a brand, we can continue to serve them well into the future and build further equity in the portfolio of WSL brands.”

Swanson will report into Shumate as senior vice-president of strategic insights and consumer growth – a new role for the league. She has been tasked with leading the WSL’s talent marketing division, as well as the data, insights and analytics division.

Swanson joins after building the NFL’s UK brand presence in London for the past four years.

"There is so much we can learn about what our fans, and our potential fans, want from us and look to us to deliver," she said.

“I'm incredibly excited about the opportunity to learn, strategize and create opportunities to bring surfing and some of the world's most talented and aspirational athletes to an even broader audience."

Shumate and Swanson are joined on the surfing league’s leadership team by Cherie Cohen. The former senior vice-president of portfolio sales and client partnerships at NBCUniversal takes on the role of chief revenue officer and will report directly to chief executive officer Sophie Goldschmidt.

Featured by The Drum

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