Marissa Solis, Senior Vice President – Global Brand & Consumer Marketing, National Football League

“Latinos love the sport of American football, but they have to see themselves reflected in it,” shares Marissa Solis, Senior Vice President – Global Brand & Consumer Marketing, National Football League. “Part of my job is to make sure, as we communicate the NFL brand, that people see themselves reflected in the brand and that they feel that they can be part of the game.”

Born in Mexico City, Solis moved to Harlingen, TX at the age of 10. Solis’ first sport fan experience was at 13 years old when she attended her first FIFA World Cup match in Mexico City. Although not engaged in sports as an athlete, she is a loyal fan. Here is where her fan engagement experience interweaves with her role as SVP – Global Brand & Consumer Marketing at the National Football League.

“As head of brand, my job is to engage fans, to bring fans to the sport, to make sure that they’re involved in and love the sport and that we grow our fandom,” she says. “My 25 year experience as a marketer has taught me a bit about engaging different people in unique ways”

Bringing life to the NFL brand is at the core of Solis’ job. The biggest sport in the U.S., Solis’ goal is for the brand to grow globally, while staying relevant into the future. According to Solis, one of the biggest challenges is diversifying the NFL’s fan base.

“If you look at our core fan base today, it’s an older fan base,” she shares. “It is very homogenous in that It’s primarily white and middle America.  When you look at what’s happening to demographics in our country, you can see that our country is becoming increasingly multicultural and younger.  We need to make sure that our fanbase is reflective of our country so we have to make sure that we bring all of those growing communities, all those new potential fans into the mold. We have to change the face of the league, we have to be more approachable, younger and more modern, and much more inclusive. I find my job to be very important because I want to make sure that the league becomes more inclusive and reaches out and is relevant to every community, including the Latino community.”

Considered a magnetic business leader with over 25 years of marketing, management, communications and sales experience in both the U.S. and Latin American markets, Solis is responsible for driving the vision and evolution of the NFL brand, using data to develop creative visions and managing campaigns to ensure consistency and effectiveness.

A graduate of Georgetown University with a B.S. in International Economics and the University of Texas at Austin with an M.A. in Public Policy, she began her career in brand management at Procter & Gamble Latin America in San Juan, Puerto  Rico where she led marketing for brands like Ariel, Downy, and Pampers.

Today, the sports executive credits her parents for the person she has become. Her mother, a teacher by trade and her father, an engineer in Mexico, couldn’t continue their respective professions in the United States, so they began a restaurant business. Here is where persistence, resilience and being relentless was the way to survive and Solis learned valuable lessons from seeing her parents in business.

“The restaurant business is tough,” she shares. “You experience bankruptcies, breakups, and the business keeps stopping and starting.  You have to be resilient, and that’s the kind of work ethic that I learned from them,” she shares. “You put 100 percent into everything that you do. Every job is a good job. Whether I was mopping floors, washing dishes, whatever I was doing to help them, they taught me to be grateful for everything I had. They always said ‘you have to be relentless and keep going…even in defeat’, because like I said, the restaurant had a lot of tough times. But they also taught me to be really humble in success. When you’re doing well and you’re successful, you cannot let the success get to your head. You always have to remember where you came from and honor the people that helped you along the way. So those teachings, those roots, that’s the core of who I am. And now as a leader, I always look back to that. I give 110 percent. I’m very resilient and relentless in defeat. I’m very humble in success. It’s their lessons that I honor.”

While 34 million Latinos in the U.S. are fans of the NFL, Solis believes there is a need to also build a pipeline of Latino players.  The pipeline starts with participation in the sport.

“We need more diverse players in the NFL,” she shares. “That pipeline has to start young, which is why we want to get more kids involved in playing the game. We are working internally and externally to build the sport of Flag Football.  We are working with our 32 Clubs to sanction Flag Football as an official high school sport across the 50 states and we are working with the International Federation of American Football to make Flag Football an official Olympic sport for the LA’28 Olympics.  If that becomes a reality, we will have global momentum, global awareness, and we will get more people to participate and eventually build our pipeline and increase our fandom.”

From supporting the 32 teams in amplifying their programming to highlighting the work that the NFL Family does to uplift communities in need, Solis’ impact is visible as underserved communities are recognized and given a voice. During the NFL’s In-Season game in Mexico City, the League debuted a big collaboration with Latino fashion designers and Latino music artists.

“We had a campaign featuring all of our merchandise for NFL, and we leveraged the music from a Dembow group from the Dominican Republic,” she shares. “When they heard their music featured in an NFL commercial on national TV, the entire Dominican Republic went crazy because they were represented.  That’s the power of our platform to lift up communities that otherwise would not be seen.”

Her most recent proud moment to date is the showing of Flag Football player Diana Flores, Mexico Women’s National Flag Football team quarterback and most recently AFC offensive coordinator at The Pro Bowl Games, during the Super Bowl commercial feature.

“Our purpose for featuring her story was to open up the perspective and the perception of what football is,” shares Solis. “To make sure that people understand football is for everyone. A young Latina can be a powerful football player, as well. And I think that’s what that commercial showed, the empowerment that it can bring to generations of girls, boys, Latinos, non-Latinos. A Superbowl commercial is a big feat. It is arguably the biggest advertising platform in America today. And for us to be able to have featured a woman- a Latina woman – front and center as the protagonist of the story, that was amazing and an incredibly proud moment.”

Whether it’s through education, through economic advancement, through social justice, or through cancer awareness, Solis is proud of the work the league does off the field for the community. As the only SVP Latina at the NFL, she brings the lens of humility to a massive sport through a different perspective and by telling stories people can relate to.

“Fans may not necessarily only want to see the touchdowns and the scores,” she shares. “They want to see the human side of things, what happens off the field. And I think just that vulnerability of being a Latina, and what you go through allows me to bring that lens and for the team to see how important humanity and humility are to the sport.”

Inspired by her mantra, “be the captain of your soul; be the master of your fate,” Solis feels a great sense of obligation to represent and uplift the Latino community.

“I love that about the job,” she shares. “It gives me the opportunity to make that impact. My mission, my purpose in life is to give that voice to those that don’t have it. To shine that light on those underserved communities that have been ignored. Growing up in the (Rio Grande) Valley, I know what that feels like. I need to continue to tell those stories, to elevate those communities. And what better way to do it than through a huge beloved platform that so many people see.”

From a business perspective, Solis is excited about the potential for the NFL to become a global sport. Games in Mexico, London, and Munich took place in 2022.  Next year, three games in London, and two games in Frankfurt will take place.. Solis is excited to continue to see these games expand to other countries in the future.

“The League wants to see games all over Europe and Asia and Africa, and that’s really exciting to me,” she shares. “You think the NFL is massive because it is in America, but it’s not the biggest sport in the world. And so that’s a huge opportunity to show how you can grow a brand globally, so I’m very excited about that part.”

Today the mother of 18-year-old Gabriela Solis, believes it is invaluable for her daughter to be part of a sports team. Gabriela has played soccer since she was 3 years old.

“It’s that resilience, empowerment and confidence that sports gives you that is going to serve her so well,” she shares.  “. The teamwork and collaboration you learn through sports will serve her in whatever she does because you can’t succeed on your own. People say it takes a village to accomplish great things, it really does take a village. And I think team sports teaches you that. My dream for her is that she finds her mission, her purpose, and she lives it no matter what she does. Because when you live your purpose every day, it’s like you’re not really working. I don’t feel like I’m working. I feel like I’m living my purpose. And that’s, that’s a really powerful thing. I wish that for her.”