Natasha Aarons, an Ad Age 40 Under 40 in 2020, is BET+ VP of marketing

You talked about Martin [Lawrence]. Can you name one other project or campaign that you worked on this past year that you’re proud of?

Upon joining, we were launching “Kingdom Business,” which is a phenomenal show on BET+, featuring gospel music superstar Yolanda Adams in a role that you’ve never seen her in, playing the villain. So that was a big launch that I worked on when I just started that I’m very proud of. Martin, again. We just learned as part of our marketing campaign, Martin was getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and that was announced the day after the premiere. So it’s just been phenomenal, again, to be able to be a part of reminding the world of the cultural significance of Martin and celebrating that.

Have you encountered any surprises in your career journey?

As a younger marketer, early in my career, I thought once you get to the VP level, you know it all. You are an expert but I’m constantly learning. I learned so much from the other members on my team. Just seeing from a cultural perspective, I’m no longer under 40, so there are certain things that are happening culturally that I’m not aware of. I’m constantly learning and so I think that’s the most surprising; to sit in this seat and realize that I still have so much to learn to be a better marketer.

The business continues to transition. There’s so much advancement in technology and what’s happening in martech, and so, what’s surprising to me is that I’m still a student. I’m still learning, even though I sit in this seat and I have a deep level of expertise in marketing.

See last year’s 40 Under 40 honorees

When we honored you, you talked about diversity, and you said that you’ve basically used your position, often as the only woman of color on a team, to be a bold change agent who consistently demonstrates commitment to championing diverse voices. How have you applied that mission to where you are now?

What I said back then is actually the mission of BET and has been the mission of BET for over 40-plus years. So it’s actually really refreshing to be in a room …[where] you’re not convincing. Everyone is on the same page. They get it and now my role really is not to do that internally but it’s to do it externally and introduce new fans to Black culture. So I get to live that personal mission out day-in-and-day-out in that job and that’s part of the reason why I came here. A big reason why I came here.

What advice would you give a younger version of yourself who is just starting out in the industry?

My 21-to 22-year-old self, I was really bold and at that point, in my life and my journey, I had not heard no’s or had doors shut in my face so I was really bold. I would say, ‘Keep that same energy.’ Still be bold. Life’s gonna toss you some no’s, you’re gonna face some adversity, but keep that same bold energy.

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