Year in Review 2023: David McIndoe

Each year, StopPress asks a group of talented professionals in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. This year, we speak to individuals who made their mark on 2023 and brought us truly impactful work.

David McIndoe is Chief Strategy Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi New Zealand and has had an award-winning career, collecting over 25 Effies including nine Golds and a coveted Cannes Lion for Effectiveness. He shares his thoughts on 2023, and what he expects to see in 2024.

If 2023 were a brand, what would its slogan be?

Pixie Caramel – The longer lasting chew

How would you sum up your professional year in three words?

Changeable, fun, self-reflective.

What shifts do you foresee in NZ adland for 2024 based on 2023’s trends?

With so many facets of business touching marketing (and the many more eyes and expectations that come with it) budgets are asked to do increasingly more. To serve this, I think we’ll see more systems thinking become formalised in the industry, architecting beyond campaigns,  and hopefully more collaboration amongst agency villages to better serve their clients’ challenges.

What was a key change that Saatchi & Saatchi made this year in response to 2023’s challenges?

It’s been a year of trading off and extending brand platforms into the edges, making our brands famous in culture in uncertain times. The addition of Saatchi Studios has meant we are delivering responsive, made for channel ideas and content that has enabled this greatly. We excited about the opportunity ahead it will create.  

What technology made the most impact on your day-to-day work this year?

Independent fibre connection for agency music. Never again will agency vibe need to bow to global ICT policy.

What were the biggest lessons brands learnt in 2023?

I don’t think the lessons of 2023 have been learnt yet – but I’d say a lesson that’s coming is a return to category and the commercial power of entertainment. We’re all probably due a reminder that brands can be fun and each of us occupy a small but valuable place in people lives – I’m way more in Ritson’s camp than Sinek. We don’t need purpose in our ice-cream.

What mistakes are brands at risk of making in 2024?

Coasting. The challenge of 2023 was uncertainty; often the case in election years but amplified by recession, cost of living and shifting zeitgeist. The pieces have landed where they have, we have a clearer picture of what 2024 looks like than we did 2023 – let’s make some new moves.

Who inspired you in 2023 and why?

Hugh Everett – physics madlad. Quantum mechanics is a collection of almost impossibly precise predictions all wrapped in a brain-melting counter-intuitive interpretations.  Hugh Everett had this inspired ability to completely step outside of convention thinking and preconception, make an interpretation exclusively based on reality without any influence of bias or belief. Think we could all do with a bit more of that.

What personal achievement are you most proud of this year?

Took a year off alcohol (mostly). Nothing but positives.

What are you most looking forward to working on in 2024?

My eldest daughter is heading to university. Some of the best times of my life, looking forward to vicariously reliving it though her

Quick fire 10:

Most impactful local campaign of 2023:

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” – ANZ.

Most underrated international campaign of the year:

Oatly – The New Normal Show.

Campaign I wish I worked on:

The Barbie Movie.

A news event that didn’t get the attention it deserved:

Sam Altman’s firing, rehiring and board clear-out. This wasn’t C-suite drama; there’s a story with global consequence there.

Most listened to artist of 2023:

Mitski – think my kids are screwing my Spotify algorithm.

A 2023 trend you’re ready to bid farewell to:

Hitting the griddy.

Most innovative use of social media in a campaign this year:

Spotify Wrapped – that just levelled up.

Most bingeable TV series of 2023:

The Bear.

Biggest flop of 2023:

Witcher Season 3.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given:

Watch the ball, but mind your feet.

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