• Downey will receive the award at the Strategy Awards on October 3 in Toronto
  • Joins prestigious list of famous Canadians and marketing/agency execs

Toronto, September 27, 2023: Michael Downey, a visionary leader, with an exceptional track record as a senior marketing and sponsorship leader has been awarded the prestigious 2023 Gold Medal by the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA). This esteemed accolade recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of marketing communications in Canada.

Downey’s career in marketing has been nothing short of illustrious. With a rich and diverse background in leadership roles, he has made significant contributions to several prominent organizations, having held leadership positions with the Toronto Raptors, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Molson Canada, and Tennis Canada.

Downey has been a driving force behind several of Canada’s most influential and recognizable marketing campaigns and events, from nostalgic Trident Gum commercials in the 1980s to innovative promotional campaigns in the inaugural years of the Toronto Raptors, the award-winning Molson Canadian ‘I am Canadian’ campaign and the Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto benefit festival – more commonly known as SARSFest – which attracted 450,000 to Downsview Park, the largest-ever concert in Canada. Downey ensured Tennis Canada utilized the global success of Canadian tennis stars – like Milos Raonic in a tongue and cheek ‘Kids’ Tennis Public Service Announcement’ advertisements and, more recently, Bianca Andreescu in the Girls Set Match campaign as part of Tennis Canada’s gender equity efforts with National Bank – to help raise the profile of tennis in Canada.

As CEO, he embarked on a transformative mission, redefining the organization’s identity from that of a tournament host to a trailblazer in talent development and high-performance excellence.

His tenure was marked by a significant shift in the organizational culture, as he led the development of a bold plan to commit to substantial investments in emerging talents. Under his guidance, Tennis Canada played a pivotal role in nurturing and honing the skills of tennis luminaries like Bianca Andreescu, Eugenie Bouchard, Milos Raonic, and Félix Auger-Aliassime. Their stellar performances on the global stage not only elevated their own careers but also propelled Tennis Canada to unprecedented heights, establishing it as a world leading tennis nation.

“The impact of Michael’s career in marketing and in the advancement of Canadian tennis on the world stage are legacies that will endure the test of time” said Ron Lund, President & CEO of the Association of Canadian Advertisers.”

“It is a sincere honour to receive this prestigious ACA award,” Downey commented. “To be in the same company as marketing icons and legends is a real honour. In the end, one’s success is all about the company one keeps, and I was privileged to have worked for and with a plethora of inspiring and exceptionally talented people over the last four decades. The list is too long to recite, but they know who they are!”

“I was also trained right of out of university in 1980 by the very best product managers at Warner Lambert in Mary Hurst and Moira Bell,” he added. “These ‘teachers’ of packaged-goods marketing made sure this ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ recruit was fully prepared to eventually tackle challenges and seize opportunities with great Canadian brands like Labatt Blue, the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Molson family of brands and, of course, Tennis Canada and its world-renowned set of top tier tournaments, the National Bank Open (formerly Rogers Cup) in Toronto and Montreal.”

Under his leadership, amid COVID-19, Downey led negotiations in securing ten and seven-year corporate partnership agreements with National Bank and Rogers respectively, which consolidated the future of Canadian tennis at a time of great uncertainty.

Additionally, a historic commitment was made to equal prize money for women and men starting in 2027 at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers.

These transformative initiatives not only elevated Tennis Canada but also propelled the sport towards a more inclusive and equitable future, leaving a lasting legacy of positive change.

Michael Downey’s transformative leadership journey in tennis has left an enduring mark, shaping the sport and its future in Canada.

Downey will receive the Gold Medal Award at this year’s Strategy Awards on October 3 at The Arcadian Court in Toronto.

About the ACA Gold Medal Award

The ACA Gold Medal Award is:

  • Open to all individuals in activities that have an impact on marketing communications in Canada (client marketers, agencies, media, researchers, academics, associations, etc.)
  • Awarded for a single achievement, or for accomplishments over time
  • Awarded to a candidate whose contribution represents a measurable, distinctive advancement in the practice of marketing communications in Canada

Since its inception, the ACA Gold Medal Award has been presented to a distinguished list of industry leaders and visionaries. View the full list of past honorees.