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.
Melanie Spencer is CEO of Thompson Spencer, an independent creative group with brands like Magnesium (a full-service production house), Media-X (an accredited media ad agency) and Flying Tiger (a Chinese marketing agency). We asked her the big questions about 2023, and what we might see in 2024.
If 2023 were a brand, what would its slogan be?
- The Fast and the Furious
It’s been a huge year for you, making Campaign Asia’s 2023 Women To Watch list, as well as Socialites rebranding to Thompson Spencer. How would you sum up your professional year in three words?
‘Pinch me moments’.
Who really disrupted the market this year?
Elon tried of course, however ‘close but no cigar’ and Meta tried to go head to head with Elon by launching Threads of which missed the mark. Tik Tok continued to go from strength to strength with 1.5 billion users across the globe and You Tube on going long with short form vids. But, I would say it’s all our content creators who are seriously disrupting the market by transforming the social media platforms into a new-age TV channel.
What was the best innovation/launch/invention of 2023?
Everyone is of course talking AI but I can’t get enough of CGI and the unreal work that’s being produced in NZ and internationally. Blue Hamel (one of our content creators), is a talent to watch and brands that have excelled in this space are Mecca (Sol de Janeiro) and Victoria Beckham. Of course it’s been around for a long time, but the level of work now, is beyond.
How did this year change the way you approach digital media?
We now think of our creative as a feast for the senses. Every sensory touchpoint (apart from taste) has to now be ignited. Sight: Everything has to look swoon-worthy; Hearing: ASMR has gone to whole new level; Touch; the creative has to be so good that your audience wants to reach through the screen and grab and feel the product. Perhaps 2024 we’ll be able to do scratch and smell campaigns? 😉
I will remember 2023 as the year…
I’m not sure I’ll remember much – so much has happened in such a short space of time but my biggest memory will be the genesis of Thompson Spencer and the excitement of watching the team creating award winning content across TV and social media channels. What a thrill!
What technology made the most impact on your day-to-day work this year?
The tech we’re building inhouse is seriously epic and has changed our lives.
Undergoing a rebrand taught me…
That a recession shouldn’t stop brands from being brave and remarkable
Who inspired you and why?
My team of course! They’re the best in the business and great humans to boot.
What are you most looking forward to working on in 2024?
We work with some of the world’s most incredible brands and too many to mention but I’m particularly looking forward to getting back to heartfelt, emotional and deeply creative campaigns that make a difference to our industry and audiences.
Quick fire 10:
Most impactful local campaign of 2023:
It’s not a campaign but our community management crisis work during the floods and Cyclone Gabrielle for Auckland Airport, NW, IAG and Counties Energy. Our team went above and beyond and worked 24-hour shifts for weeks on end to ensure information updates were relayed in a timely manner to their communities. I will never ever forget how hard our team worked and the camaraderie to get through those incredibly tough times.
Most underrated international campaign of the year: ‘You Got This’ for Nike by OK Cool. Pairing real girls with world-class Nike Athletes, opening a dialogue to inspire girls around the world to find the power of play
A campaign I wish I worked on: Walmart Christmas Campaign – ‘Add to Heart’. Genius!
A news event that didn’t get the attention it deserved: The destruction of Cyclone Gabrielle in the Hawkes Bay
Most listened to artist of 2023 Fred Again
A 2023 trend you’re ready to bid farewell to: The Barbie hot pink trend. We’re done now, thank you.
Most innovative use of social media in a campaign this year: Our Long White summer brand campaign.
Most bingeable TV series of 2023: Beckham.
Biggest flop of 2023: The NZ economy.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given: “Sometimes the only way out, is through”. Emma Lewisham.