Tony’s career as a marketer began at age five. When he first proposed setting up a lemonade stand to his mother, he thought it would be a quick cash-grab from sympathetic neighbours. But his mom seized on a bigger opportunity. She sold him the raw ingredients, taught him about profit margins, showed him how to make a sign, and coached him as he selected the ideal location for his stand.
He was hooked. Through school, he gravitated to part-time jobs selling radio, or as a nightclub promoter – all based on the principles of supply and demand.
In 1982, Tony answered his calling as an entrepreneur, co-founding Communiqué, which quickly became Canada’s premier corporate communications agency. Under Chapman, Communiqué re-imagined the internal communications business, elevating industry production and creative standards to new levels, while also bringing the art of strategic thinking and insight to a business that had traditionally been more sizzle than steak.
Communiqué also pioneered a concept called ‘Off the Shelf’, which enabled clients to rent customizable 36-projector slide shows (in the halcyon era of multi-image) for a fraction of its actual production cost. Within three years, they were the market leaders, marketing their product in Europe and Asia. He subsequently sold the business to a British firm, The Michael Peters Group, which sadly went bankrupt within a year. “I didn’t do my homework,” Tony says.
In 1992, he founded Capital C. When the company first opened its doors, it was as a promotions agency. From the start, the plan was to deliberately keep the business small so that the partners could spend more time with their families during their formative years. When their kids grew older, they decided to take Capital C to the next level.
Under Tony, Capital C quickly transformed beyond its promotional roots, often defying traditional classification. Instead of mass marketing, Capital C was about ‘me’ marketing: interacting, engaging, and creating a dialogue with individual consumers. Capital C was soon producing magazines, animated televisions specials, breakthrough retail programs, while also developing branding, packaging, and providing consumer insight.
In 2006, Capital C was the first non-mass agency to receive Marketing magazine’s coveted Agency of the Year. In the past four years, Capital C has been recognized with over 50 Best of Show or Gold Awards in national and global awards competitions.
On January 18, 2007, Capital C’s relevance as a global marketing leader was cemented with the placement of the ‘Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out’ video on YouTube. This short video that cost $3,000 to produce became a viral phenomenon and the stuff of marketing legend. It was viewed over 12 million times, and was talked about on-air by Jay Leno, Ryan Seacrest, and all the major American TV networks.
Today, Tony Chapman is a sought-after speaker on subjects ranging from consumerism to the future of marketing. He has written articles in the mainstream press, and made numerous appearances on national radio and television. He is featured in upcoming documentaries on BBC and CBC, talking about viral marketing and is currently finishing his first book – “How we wigged out the world in seven days”. He also serves on both public and not-for-profit boards, and is a longstanding member of the Young Presidents’ Organization.