Look Back/Look Ahead: David can take down Goliath, says Chapman

Tony Chapman, CEO of Toronto-based Capital C, weighs in on the year that was and the one that's coming up.

Today’s year-end commentator, Tony Chapman, CEO of Toronto-based Capital C, weighs in on the year that was and the one that’s coming up. In his signature style, he prefaces his remarks by saying Cap C had a great year, and that he’s very optimistic about their ability to also do well in 2009. However, for the bigger picture, he hopes he’s being pessimistic: ‘The following remarks are based on areas that we have no control over,’ he says, adding ‘I can only hope that this time next year, my remarks appear to be dramatic, versus conservative.’

MiC: What surprised you in ’08?

The speed and intensity of the economic firestorm, brought about by Wall Street’s insatiable appetite to leverage beyond any reason to simply feed its greed. That gluttony will take years to digest, resulting in a collapse of consumer confidence, net worth and therefore our overall economy.

MiC: What happened in ’08 that you applaud?

Obama, with his vision, conviction and brainpower. Countries working together in a highly collaborative fashion in an effort to prevent a complete collapse of capitalism. Time will tell if they are successful.

MiC: What happened in ’08 that dismayed or worried you?

How easily our politicians tossed around numbers like $3 trillion, the current cost of the Iraq War, or the $1-trillion financial bailout, all of which must be paid back by future generations. The most recent gift is the $25-billion bailout of the North American auto industry, without a plan on how they can build competitive cars that the public wants to buy.

MiC: What trends or issues are you watching on the horizon in 2009?

For consumers, value is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have. They will shop with cash, make lists and prioritize their spending. For business, an oversaturated marketplace will require a massive and immediate consolidation of supply or we will see the devastating impact of deflation as companies rely on below-cost pricing to move inventories.

MiC: What do you see as the next big opportunity?

Every consumer in every category is up for grabs. David can take down Goliath with the right insights, positioning, strategy and the ability to deploy with speed and precision an array of marketing tactics that fully leverage new media. It’s how Obama won over the voters, it’s how marketers can win over the consumer. No market leader is sacred or secure.

MiC: What do you see as the next big looming threat?

Canada is among the worst in the G7 in patent applications, research and development, investing in education and trading with the emerging markets like Asia and India. We are also becoming a lift and adapt market for many multinationals.

This doesn’t bode well for our future economy, unless we are comfortable in simply being hewers of wood.