Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), which connects global brands to consumers through the power of popular entertainment, today announced the appointment of Ricky Ray Butler as CEO effective June 1. Butler previously held the role of Global CCO. Gary Shenk, who was the founding CEO of BEN, will move into the newly-created role of Executive Chairman after the transition.
As CEO of BEN, Butler will focus on enhancing the company’s already strong brand and content creator relationships, with a continuous emphasis on operational execution and strategy. With more than 10 years of senior leadership experience in the advertising and entertainment space, Butler has led diverse and growing teams while also strategizing with top brand clients and content creators to identify the right integration campaigns for their audiences.
In 2009, Butler founded Plaid Social Labs, the leading social media influencer product integration company which was acquired by BEN in 2015. He joined the company as Senior Vice President of Digital and quickly helped BEN establish key relationships in the influencer space. Within one year, he was promoted to Global CCO where he oversaw strategy, execution and brand relationships, supporting BEN’s capabilities in traditional and digital integration services for a global roster of clients including Microsoft, Ubisoft and General Motors. He completed his studies at Brigham Young University with a degree in advertising and marketing communications.
“Ricky Ray is a great leader, operator and proven performer. He built Plaid Social, which as BEN Digital, has now evolved into the leading influencer marketing company,” said Shenk. “He’s an inspirational and empowering team builder, whose passion and work ethic are infectious – he’s bold! We are building a super-successful breakout company that is at the cutting edge of the entertainment and marketing evolution and, as the company founder, I’m thrilled about Ricky’s leadership and this next chapter in BEN’s journey.”
Ricky Ray is a great leader, operator and proven performer. He built Plaid Social, which as BEN Digital, has now evolved into the leading influencer marketing company. He’s an inspirational and empowering team builder, whose passion and work ethic are infectious – he’s bold!
Gary Shenk, Executive Chairman
In his new role as Executive Chairman, Shenk will be focused on advising Butler and leading strategic and corporate development initiatives to enable greater long-term value creation for the company.
“BEN has undergone an incredible transformation and our success as a company is a direct result of Gary’s commitment to BEN and the incredible team he built,” said Butler. “I am thrilled to take on the CEO role and collaborate with the team as we continue to empower brands and content creators across the globe. I will benefit significantly from continuing to partner with Gary and having access to his strategic advice and ongoing mentorship.”