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Photo by Yakov Radyushin

AMA Toronto recently hosted its annual gala for Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends at the Palais Royale officially welcoming and celebrating six new Marketing Legends.

This year, a diverse group of marketing most distinguished leaders were honoured for their career achievements: 


The 2023 Marketer-on-the-Rise was awarded to Hyla Nayeri and Adrien Bettio, founders of the meteoric 437 Swimwear, a luxury swimwear and apparel brand launched in 2017. 

“They’ve ridden the wave of change, they’ve battled headwinds, they’ve battled the recession, they’ve found a way to bring the next generation into the culture, they’ve made people believe, and challenged the status quo,” said emcee Tony Chapman, a 2008 inductee, thought leader and host of Chatter That Matters, opening the ceremony.

Building on Chapman’s inspiring assessment, Barbara Boyd, president of AMA Toronto, highlighted in her welcoming remarks the importance of recognizing and celebrating our industry’s best visionaries, enablers, builders and mentors. Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends was created to connect aspiring marketers with inspiring role models, make the industry more inclusive, and bring a global perspective to the industry.

After formally accepting the award, each new Marketing Legend in a surprising, personal and sage moment gave advice to the next generation of marketers in the audience.

Chris Staples, one of the founding partners from Rethink, believes that working overtime does not help with making a campaign more creative.

“A lot of young people think that it’s about putting in the hours, showing that you’re committed, and staying until 11 every night, working your life away on advertising. I would say don’t forget to have a life—it will make your ads better and everything better”.


For Sandra Sanderson, SVP, marketing, Empire Company Limited and Sobeys Inc, stepping back to look at a problem from a different angle has helped a lot throughout her career and life. 

“I find that when I’m at a crossroads, and I’m not quite sure what I want to do, I always step back and say, ‘What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?’ And often what I find is it’s a different answer than the path that I was thinking of taking. And so that I think illuminates more what I really want to do.” 

Noel, O’Dea from Target Marketing and Communications recommended going off the beaten track to be different and staying true to yourself and your vision.

“I think Shakespeare said it best: ‘To thine own self be true.’ …and the corollary of that, is to avoid best practices at all costs. Because best practices mean that there’s no differentiation—you’re only two degrees different from your competitor. 

Be strong enough to be able to stand up for your convictions—not for the moment of positive reinforcement and getting out of a bind in a meeting, but for the long-term success.”

Lisa Lisson from FedEx advised the new generation of marketers to choose their career path based on their passion and keep working their way up by setting professional and personal goals.

“What I tell all people who walk into marketing is that it’s so diverse, there are so many different jobs. Find what you’re passionate about, and don’t jump at the first job. When you’re passionate about what you do, you will shine.

The second thing I say is that it’s so important to write down your goals. The most successful people in life write down their goals, whether personally or professionally […] 

Let your intentions be known, and then every single day when you wake up, figure out what baby step you can take tomorrow to achieve that goal.” 


Tom Shepansky, also from Rethink, said that having a great team is a game changer.

“For me, it really comes down to people. When I’m sitting here looking at the next generation of leadership for Rethink, I couldn’t be more proud of the team that we’ve built, and I think we mutually inspire each other, each and every day.

What I would say to the next generation and the generations after that, is to work with people that you believe in and work with people you love. Life is too short not to be aligned in your values and beliefs […] 

Look for those companies that have a clear purpose, who have people you connect with, and that you believe in, and you feel loved.” 

Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends, created almost 20 years ago, provides marketers with a unique moment to reflect on current industry standards, get direct access to inducted Legends and receive insights into the future of marketing and business. This year’s Marketing Legends confirmed one more time that creativity, resilience, and sticking to your true values are the keys to professional success.

Special thanks to Zulu Alpha Kilo for its generous sponsorship and support of Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends, as it also puts a spotlight on increasing BIPOC representation in the creative field through its 20Doors Scholarship Fund.

Additional thanks go out to all our Gala Sponsors: ACCES EmploymentBalmoral MulticulturalCisionEmpire (Sobeys)EYFedExMondelēz InternationalPartake BrewingRethinkScotiabank, and Seneca College School of Marketing.

AMA Toronto partners that also support CMHOL events include Arnold Street MediaLapse ProductionsLulu Marketing CommunicationsNarcity Media GroupPop Communications, and Score Promotions

Special shout out to the sponsors of our Guest Gift bag, Mondelēz InternationalPartake BrewingEmpire (Sobeys)Four Three Seven, and Jelly Academy.

Thank you to Bonterra Digital for capturing the moments from the celebration on video, and to our volunteer photographer Yakov Radyushin.

And finally, thank you to Palais Royale for the hospitality and the great weather that made it a night to remember.

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