Staff Reporters
Nov 30, 2023

Women to Watch 2023: Melanie Spencer, Thompson Spencer

When she’s not leading the growth mission for New Zealand’s largest independent, locally-owned agency network, Spencer can be found either on a surfboard or a set of skis.

Women to Watch 2023: Melanie Spencer, Thompson Spencer
Celebrating outstanding talent in marcomms

Melanie Spencer

Group CEO
Thompson Spencer
New Zealand

Hustling with heart, Melanie Spencer has a passion for helping brands tell authentic stories and build strong communities of advocates.

Since Spencer joined the Socialites Group in 2019, which got rebranded to Thompson Spencer in Q2 2023, the agency has seen its revenue grow by 654% and net profit by 640%. The team has grown from 15 people to over 40, and the past year has seen Spencer successfully lead the acquisition of three complimentary agencies to join the group—Chinese-specialist agency, Flying Tiger; content creation and production agency, Magnesium; and talent agency People of Influence.

If that wasn’t enough, Spencer also recognised the opportunity to further vertically integrate the group’s service offering, by launching its own fully-accredited media agency, Media-X.

The task of bringing together agencies with strong cultures, strong client lists, and operating processes is Herculean. However, Spencer took the entire process in her stride and demonstrated how complementary acquisitions can be a positive sum game. Each newly-acquired agency is delivering stronger financial performances than it was pre-acquisition, in most cases driven by cross-agency client opportunities.

The success that Spencer has driven at the agency has resulted in significant industry recognition, including winning the silver in the Campaign Asia-Pacific Independent Agency award, Digital Agency of the Year, and Influencer Agency of the Year in 2022.

Spencer leads from the top, and is passionate about changing the old-school ‘boys club’ model. She founded the podcast “Seat at the table” with a startup incubator, Icehouse. Celebrating women in business and leadership roles, the podcast aims to both inspire and give power to those women without a voice.

Proud of her Māori descent, Spencer has led a partnership between the agency and the Māori internship program ICE, giving Māori students an opportunity to experience the advertising and marketing industry through internships. Thompson Spencer also mandates that 10% of influencers engaged in every campaign must bring strong diversity to the project.

Spencer is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Auckland, speaking on women in business and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset for both MBA and undergraduate courses.

Her team loves her and clients trust her. She has also taken on a leadership position in the New Zealand marketing industry, giving her time to the boards of some of the country’s leading national marketing associations and charities.

Celebrating outstanding talent in marcomms


Campaign Asia

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