Vicky L. Free
Executive Vice President, Marketing & Brand Strategy
New York City
The business of building brands requires a deep understanding of consumers’ needs, wants and preferences. Vicky L. Free not only meets the challenge of forecasting consumers’ response to new products, she also accurately anticipates how African-American audiences receive and consume intangibles like entertainment and culture. “Building effective consumer engagement is the ultimate goal of brand marketing and media management,” says Free.
With nearly two decades of related experience, Free has been executive vice president of marketing at BET Networks since June 2011, reporting directly to the network’s CEO, Debra Lee. Free’s marketing and sales acumen was honed early. As a regional representative with Pitney Bowes, she achieved 100 percent of the firm’s sales target and was recognized as one of the youngest, most successful members of its Southeast U.S. sales team by the close of her four-year tenure. She spent several years at McDonald’s Corp., rising from regional marketing manager to national director for the African-American and Asian Pacific Islander American consumer segments and director of strategic planning for women consumers. Before joining BET, Free fulfilled many business goals during six years as vice president for the Turner Broadcasting System, including launching breakout creative campaigns promoting hit shows for a variety of audiences, such as Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and The Closer.
Free earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina, her home state; an executive M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business; and executive leadership certificates from UCLA and Harvard Business School. Actively involved with Women in Cable Telecommunications, Free adds its Rising Star Award to a collection of honors. Emphasizing her belief in the power of education and the importance of family, she affirms: “I am committed to leaving a legacy that will inspire the next generation to achieve more, see more and give back more.”