NFL Hires New Head of Media Away From Ad Agency Hill Holliday

Dave Bolger will lead the league's planning and buying efforts

Bolger brings 20 years of agency experience to the role. - Credit by Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

The National Football League has completed its seven-month search for a new executive to help lead its media strategy.

Dave Bolger will join the league as vp, consumer media, bringing 20 years of ad agency experience to the role. He most recently served as chief media officer at Trilia, the media division of Boston-based IPG agency Hill Holliday.

“Dave Bolger has been a talented and valued member of the Hill Holliday family for a long time,” said Hill Holliday president Chris Wallrapp. “He did a great job leading Trilia, our media practice, and his insight, humor and wit will be missed. We’re happy for Dave and we wish him all the best. The NFL is lucky to have him on their team and we can take comfort in knowing that he will always be rooting for the Pats.”

A Hill Holliday representative confirmed that the agency is currently looking for a new media chief. Earlier this year, the shop debuted a healthcare practice called Hill Holliday Health.

Bolger declined to comment. NFL representatives did not respond to requests for comment beyond an automated email reply stating that the league’s press office will be closed for the Memorial Day weekend.

The NFL created a public listing for the job in early November 2018. According to that description, the new vp will be responsible for managing much of the league’s media planning and buying strategy, working closely with its heads of partnerships and data and analytics to advise chief operating officer Maryann Turcke on optimizing returns from paid and owned media as well as partnerships with broadcast companies and others.

In addition to managing cross-platform promotional efforts, this role will also involve working with the NFL’s brand, creative and ad sales teams to help develop and execute on such campaigns.

Bolger will report to Tim Ellis, the former Activision executive who became the league’s CMO late last year. The two have worked together in the past as Bolger oversaw the Activision Blizzard account during his tenure as general manager of OMD Los Angeles.

Prior to joining OMD in 2015, the incoming executive served as svp, group media director at Hill Holliday and spent more than eight years at WPP’s MediaCom, where he led such accounts as Diageo and Volkswagen.

One person familiar with the NFL’s business said Ellis has made several significant changes to its marketing strategy and structure since taking over from Dawn Hudson. First, he launched a creative review and picked 72andSunny (which also handles Activision) as the NFL’s creative agency of record. He then hired Ian Trombetta, formerly vp of global consumer marketing at Activision, to lead influencer efforts for the NFL.

The league spent around $70 million on paid media in 2017, according to Kantar Media.


@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.