Legendary thinking: In the mind of Nancy Marcus 

03/08/2021

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A Canadian Marketing Legend speaks about her trailblazing career

 

Nancy Marcus is one of Canada’s most recognized marketing professionals in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. 

 

She was inducted into Canada’s Marketing Hall of Legends in 2020 and is a featured speaker at the “Daring to Break Conventions” event on March 10th, a part of the Legendary Leadership Series organized by AMA Toronto.

 

Nancy’s keen strategic insights and bold marketing innovations have made her an award-winning influencer for more than 40 years. She has had tremendous impact on how companies market their products in the CPG industry, working collaboratively and cross functionally within the organization.  

 

Nancy has been a trailblazer since the start of her marketing career at leading companies including Phillip Morris and RJR MacDonald as one of the few female VPs to have a seat at the executive level. Most recently as chief marketing officer (CMO) at Kruger Products she was the only female on the KPLP Management Team for more than a decade. 

 

Nancy has successfully contributed to the changing CPG landscape by redefining how companies embrace marketing to deliver bottom-line profitability. Her keen insights and intuition position her as a “change agent” by demonstrating how brands can talk to a consumer from a women’s perspective with intelligence and respect. By applying this strategy, she has gained prominence as a brave marketing pioneer by developing breakthrough marketing and trade strategies within the dynamic grocery environment.    

 

Since the beginning of her career, Nancy has helped to redefine the role of women in the industry. In each of her roles at various companies, Nancy has demonstrated that women can overcome obstacles, accelerate business growth and reach their personal aspirations. Her entrepreneurial spirit, combined with her commitment to leading a balanced lifestyle and raising a family, is inspirational and demonstrates Nancy’s exemplary hard work and dedication to overcoming hurdles and reaching her goals.

 

How does it feel to become a Marketing Legend?

 

I’m honoured to be inducted as a Marketing Legend. Having spent the past 40 years in the CPG industry launching, protecting and building Canadian brands, this recognition is meaningful. It reflects the impact and effectiveness of having one elevate the value of marketing in the boardroom and permeate its significance throughout the organization. I’ve been inspired by my marketing teams, agencies, and partners who enabled me to lead change and deliver corporate results.

 

What would you say was the most important or best career move you ever made?

Scott paper sold its Canadian subsidiary to Kruger and I was challenged to lead several significant brand and corporate transitions. I was given autonomy to create strategic brands well positioned in a highly commoditized category. As the only female on the Executive team (for most of my career at Kruger), I was part of Kruger’s IPO, the North American expansion, the sustainability portfolio, and overall strategic planning and execution. Who knew how exciting this career move could be for me, and that I would invest almost 20 years of my career with Kruger.

 

Is there a professional move or decision you wish you could take back?

After spending my first 10 years as a novice marketer in various roles within the soft drink industry, I decided to try my hand as an independent entrepreneur. I opened Kidz CreARTive Playhouse in the Toronto Beaches, three-tiered retail, drop-in, birthday party establishment that conceptually seemed ideal for the market, but realistically was a humbling, unprofitable journey. Fortunately, I sold the business and soon after returned to the corporate world.

 

Who is the most influential person in your life, and how have they helped you?

My Mother, Shirley Marcus, has been the most influential role model in my life and career. As an independent single mom, she taught me to be confident, resilient and armed me with the proper training to succeed in the “male-dominated” world that I entered and left 40 years later. She taught me to pursue my ambition with integrity and empathy - characteristics that shaped me as a leader and executive team member.

 

Have you had a mentor in your career? How did they help you?

I have not had a mentor guiding me throughout my career. I know how vital this relationship can be for one’s growth and development. That is why I have devoted much of my time to working with professional associations mentoring others.

 

What personal qualities do you think have most contributed to your success?

Perseverance, energy, leadership, passion, authenticity, and resilience are some of the personal qualities that have contributed to my achievements.

 

Where do you go from here? What most excites you about the future?

I officially retired as CMO on March 1st, 2020, and the rest of the world retired with me several weeks later due to the global pandemic. I’m currently working on an assignment for the Kruger organization and enjoying my new-found freedom and learning to slow down.

 

As a perpetual planner, I am striving to be more spontaneous and enjoy every day. Everything about the future is new and exciting and once we are both comfortable with the notion, my world travel plans with my husband will resume.

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Robert MacLean is VP, PR for AMA Toronto, and principal of MacLean PR & Corporate Communications. Best known for making marketers famous, he has enhanced the reputations of leading organizations, brands, and executives for over 15 years.  rob.maclean@ama-toronto.com

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