2023, AI, and our creative future

Our CEO & Co-Founder, Tom Dunn, reflects on the challenges and triumphs that shaped 2023, along with his thoughts on AI and the future of creativity…

How do you reflect on the past year?

It's hard to sum up 2023 in a few words - where do you start?..

It hasn’t been the easiest year for agencies working in the tech sector, let alone small independents, so it's a good moment to take a breath and consider what we've achieved, amidst a rapidly shifting landscape. The global economic climate. The tech shake-up. AI moving into overdrive. Many marketing teams are just getting back to some kind of normality as we move towards a new year.

In spite of the challenges, I’m proud of how our people have come together at Toaster this year - delivering inspiring, effective and diverse work to our clients across the world and building momentum as we head into 2024.

Watch some of our 2023 highlights below.

What are you most proud of in 2023?

Our people and the work. Our teams have come together to deliver some standout work for our clients around the world this year.

We're fortunate to have opportunities to apply our craft to help market trailblazing products that improve people's lives, or solve important challenges in the world. Our “Don’t bit it, just flex it” campaign for Chrome OS Flex (to encourage businesses to revive laptops and reduce e-waste) and the “Project Relate” campaign (to help ensure everyone has a voice and is understood), were two of many highlights from 2023.

Beyond the consistency and quality of work our teams have delivered this year, we’ve proven without any doubt that you don’t need to be a goliath network agency to make a name and be recognised. These days, indie agencies are consistently delivering standout work alongside global brands, and thanks to the talent and dedication of our people, we’ve received notable industry recognition in all of our key markets this year.

Toaster was recently ranked #1 Agency in Singapore by The One Show and #2 in India by MMA, in amongst the big industry networks. A huge achievement, and not an overnight one - testament to the talent and persistence of our people, past and present, over many years.

Our US team kicked off the year with a clean sweep at the Muse Awards and Addy’s (picking up 22 awards) and our EMEA team was recognised with two B2B-targeted rankings by B2B Marketing Awards and The Drum.

The India market is developing rapidly and our talented Delhi based Toaster team picked up a plethora of awards in 2023, contributing to Google's recognition as ‘Brand of the Year’.

We’re making progress - and there’s much more for us to do.

What do you expect to see in 2024?

With the blistering speed of technology in the 2020’s, my expectation for 2024 is to see a further closing of the gap between technology, brands and culture.

A continued evolution of brands taking to social-first thinking.
AI-driven creative marketing campaigns and experiences.
Personalised and contextual campaigns at scale.

Technology has always been a part of our DNA and we use it to power our creativity and improve audience connection to the brand.

It’s clear AI is here to stay. We have experience with this technology over a number of years, and 2023 moved it back into full focus. Our teams are working on exciting projects with brands that will feature creative experiences powered by generative AI models. Related to this, our Head of Strategy has collated valuable insights in her article - “The Year of AI: 5 Things We Learned” - well worth a read.

It’s always exciting to see how our teams continue to push the boundaries of creativity and technology to bring new value to our clients, whether it be in our creative process (see our AI cheat sheet) or in the tools we produce. We're also introducing AI assisted features in our latest marketing collaboration and creative campaign scaling tools - more to come on this in 2024!

Gemini developed by Google Deepmind is definitely a step forward and we’re looking forward to getting closer to this and other new tech in 2024. We're always keen to see how newly developed tools can help Toaster deliver greater value to our clients.

And, while it helps add new dimensions to our creativity, there are fundamentals that can’t be outsourced to tech. So much of the value of AI is teased out by the human that drives it. By iteration. By human context and emotions.

In 2024, no doubt there will be more new technological breakthroughs and new flagship AI products and features. But the interesting part (for me) is what people do with it. The creativity, the connection, the inspiration, the value…

At Toaster we always embrace the power of new tech, and we have many friendly and talented humans to help keep the balance just right.

What excites you the most for the future?

Creativity, and possibility it brings is what always excites me.

Every year the possibilities only increase as technologies, systems and knowledge continue to evolve. At Toaster, our vision is to be at the forefront of creativity, innovation & inclusion in the 21st century - and we continue to improve the value of what we do by following this path.

We’re continually inspired by long term partners - such as Google, YouTube, Flexport, Verily and Samsung - and our vision aligns with innovative and forward-thinking brands. It’s exciting to work with new clients in each market as we continue to build our reputation as creative specialists in Product Marketing for tech-enabled brands.

At Toaster, we work at the interplay between creativity, technology and culture and I believe this foundation stands us in good stead for what brands need in 2024 and beyond. We've consistently proven we're capable of great things when we bring diverse thinking and skillsets closer together, and this continues to be what excites me most for the future.

A message to sign off…

Well done to our team, clients, partners and everyone who have contributed to some incredible work in 2023, amidst new challenges in the world.

Thank you to our amazing clients - excited to see what we can do together in 2024!