Year in Review 2023: David Parker

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 Parker is Managing Partner at leading independent media agency Sneakers Media, which has offices in Auckland and Wellington. Here, he shares his thoughts on the year we’ve just had, and what we can expect from 2024.

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

The only certainty is that nothing is certain

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

  1. Unpredictable
  2. Adaptable
  3. Optimistic

A news story that restored your faith in humanity this year

I think it would have to be how Kiwis yet again pulled together during the floods to help those in need. I remember reading about people who themselves had lost everything but were doing what they could to help others. It was pretty special. 

What shifts do you foresee in the New Zealand media landscape for 2024 based on 2023’s trends?

The media landscape will continue to evolve as it keeps up with digital, data, social and technological advances. We’ll see more and more mainstream media platforms reshape and restructure their businesses as they continue to adapt to the digital world. 

In 2024, there will be a significant change with how we transact with the TV networks as they push their agenda to leveraging the ripe digital revenue streams. New ways in trading audiences on linear TV, in particular, will drive this change.

We will also see an increased pressure for quality talent as mid-tier talent continue to leave New Zealand for greener pastures overseas. This will contribute to further uptake and reliance on automation as agencies look at ways to mitigate pressure on resources, cope with scope creep and reduce costs.

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

We’ve really backed ourselves this year. Like everyone, we have faced challenges, however we didn’t wait for things to go pear shaped.  At the start of the year, we committed to a strategic roadmap for the business that we would stick to despite the significant challenges and changes we knew were coming. 

Because our business was facing challenges, we knew there would be pressure on the wider indie community as well. So when the opportunity to establish the Independent Media Agencies New Zealand (IMANZ) arose, we jumped at the chance to found the IMANZ Board alongside our indie peers; Together, Lassoo, The Media Department and D3 to champion and promote the benefits of working with independent agencies.

What technology made the most impact on the media landscape this year?

This is not new, but the uptake of programmatic digital out of home (pDOOH) has really taken off this year. As OOH suppliers have finessed their offering in this area (and greater, easier access to DSPs), it’s opened the door to more advertisers, and other agencies that may have not have historically traded with the OOH suppliers. We expect growth in this space to continue.

What mistakes do you think brands will make in the media space in 2024?

Without doubt many brands will have unrealistic sales targets set for them in 2024 which is an issue from the start.  While ROI in media is very important, especially during tough economic conditions, the easy trap is to invest all your budget into channels that appear to be delivering the best results. But nothing works in isolation and this oversimplified approach often leads to poorer business results.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt this year?

To maintain a longer term strategic vision during turbulent times, and to not forget why we do what we do.

Who inspired you in 2023 and why?

Dai Henwood.  He’s someone going through the unthinkable and has remained in the public eye and is open and honest about his life daily.  It’s extremely courageous and admirable.

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

My golf game.

Quick fire 10:

Most impactful local campaign of 2023:

ANZ’s Good Energy Home Loan. I just love the dad character.  But also the long term commitment to a creative brand platform, a more real life average NZ family and one that isn’t somehow living in an expensive Grey Lynn villa.

Most underrated international campaign of the year:

So it’s definitely not an underrated brand, but rather an underrated brand ambassador. 

McDonald’s, tapping into childhood nostalgia, paid homage to the one and only Grimace – and those iconic Macca’s birthday parties.

The campaign included ads, a video game, merchandise, a Snapchat AR experience and a phone number to text with birthday wishes. There was also a limited-edition purple shake (with over three billion views on TikTok!). And Macca’s is now about to release a limited-edition Grimace Christmas sweater to keep the run going.

Campaign I wish I worked on:

Not strictly keeping to the 2023 year in review theme… but I always wished I had been involved in Nike’s ‘Just Do It ‘campaign – specifically the Sampras v Agassi era, which was a marketer’s dream come true. They created some awesome content… and that tennis game on the streets of New York was iconic.

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

As a dog owner, the huge increase in Auckland dog attacks and aggressive roaming dogs is really concerning and frustratingly very few owners are ever held accountable.

Most listened to artist of 2023:

Guns n’ Roses… unfortunately the same as every year.

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

Greedflation – companies increasing prices under the guise of inflation… *cough* banks, ahem.

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

Correct the Internet (making sportswomen more visible).

Most bingeable TV series of 2023:

Unfortunately we haven’t been spoiled for choice this year, but hands down Ozark. 

Biggest flop of 2023:

It would be a coin toss with the summer that never was, or the TMO at the Rugby World Cup Final

Best piece of advice you’ve been given:

Life isn’t fair and don’t expect it to be. Something my younger self wasn’t keen to hear.

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