Alumni Spotlight: Vince Thompson of MELT Atlanta
Named one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2018 “Most Admired CEOs”, MELT's Vince Thompson, ’84, is a welcoming and gregarious alumnus. He’s also a great storyteller. He easily recalls his days at Auburn like they happened a few weeks ago instead of a few decades ago. As someone who wanted to be a writer, perhaps Thompson’s storytelling abilities should come as no surprise.
“I would write sports articles for the local paper, The Chatom Dispatch, and became more and more intrigued with it, and so when I got to Auburn, I wanted to study journalism and basically become a sport’s writer for the Mobile Press Register,” Thompson recalled.
Thompson grew up in Chatom, Ala., during the era of Shug Jordan, Pat Sullivan, and Terry Beasley. A love of sports, along with exposure to some of Auburn’s great athletes, instilled an early reverence for the university.
“When you are growing up in lower Alabama, one of the most important choices in life you can make is whether you're going to be an Auburn fan or an Alabama fan, and early on as far as I can remember I was an Auburn fan.”
Even though he was pre-destined to attend Auburn, Thompson says he didn’t make the most of his time here, initially, and instead felt uncomfortable.
“I wasn’t very involved in campus activities my freshman year. Coming from a small town, it was a little bit of an overwhelming environment.”
But that disconnect didn’t last long. A love of sports and writing led Thompson to finding a mentor in David Housel, a former sports information director and athletic director at Auburn.
“David was a guest lecturer in my first journalism class with Jack Simms. David talked about his experience on the sidelines and in the press box and I said, ‘Wow. That sounds like something I want to do.’”
Thompson approached Housel after the class and was invited to spend time with Housel that afternoon. He accompanied Housel on the field that day and never really left. He became a student assistant in the Sports Information Department and a sports editor for The Auburn Plainsman. Thompson said he spent four years making amazing memories while also building his professional network.
“My experience at Auburn University in meeting David Housel clearly changed the entire trajectory of my life – professionally and personally.”
In 2000, the communications graduate founded MELT Atlanta, one of the nation’s largest independent sports/culinary/entertainment marketing agencies. He is the founder, chairman and CEO and employs more than 100 people, many of whom are Auburn graduates who come to MELT for an internship MELT University, a highly-acclaimed intern program for college students.
“We’ve got so many great kids coming through here, many from Auburn University, who are feeding a great pipeline of talent. They’re very sophisticated, they’re very well trained coming out of Auburn.”
MELT annually produces thousands of events and activations, and has received numerous awards, including a 2018 Effie, and was just named to Event Marketer Magazine's 2018 Agency "It" List, recognizing MELT as one of the top 100 event marketing agencies in the country. They also have a long-established (18 years and counting) agency partnership with the Coca-Cola Company. MELT has expanded to include culinary events. And Thompson frequently lectures at major universities and appears on “The Paul Finebaum Show” on The SEC Network.
“Auburn University has always been a very important part within myself and what I’ve been able to do in my career.”
In the midst of running an award-winning company, Thompson comes to Auburn as much as he can to give guest lectures, and of course to revisit some of his favorite memories.
“I think the greatest tradition in college football is the eagle circling the stadium. It personifies the Auburn spirit. My son, Carter, and I were at this year’s Iron Bowl (Nov. 2017) and when that eagle came out and then subsequently the game began and I think that’s the highest amount of energy I’ve ever seen in that stadium, and I’ve been going to games at Jordan Hare for many, many years.”
Between working the press box for The Auburn Plainsman and working on the sideline with Housel, Thompson said he experienced some of the most amazing sports moments in Auburn’s history – including Auburn basketball with Charles Barkley and football with Bo Jackson.
“I have to break them down, generationally,” Thompson says when asked for a favorite memory.
“So, Bo Over the Top in ’82. Obviously in 2010 the great comeback with Cam Newton and crew in Tuscaloosa. The obviously the Kick Six. Then this year’s Iron Bowl was amazing as well. I also think Auburn had a run in the Sweet 16 in 1985 in the regionals in Birmingham. Anytime Charles Barkley graced the court was a great memory. Then watching Bo play baseball was an amazing memory as well because of all the things he was able to do athletically. But I think Bo Over the Top is number one because it broke a nine-year losing streak to the University of Alabama. We were able to go on the field at the time and, true confession, I helped tear the goalpost down, and that sucker was heavy! Yeah, I think that was pretty magical.”
To learn more about Thompson and MELT, visit: http://meltatl.com/, or, watch our video interview him below.
Last Updated: August 23, 2018