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The Underdog & The Unexpected

A year already bloated on "the next big thing" and even bigger personalities, we were all hungry for a little palette cleanser in Q2. Turning to industry friends, hip hop icons and even politicians, we revisit authenticity in unlikely places as our source of inspiration for the modern marketer.

We hope you enjoy this second issue of STICK!

In This Issue


  • Michael Peters

  • Amanda Story

  • Janel Gancena

  • Amber Stickel

  • Amy Do

  • Jessica Guy

  • Elliott Bedinghaus

  • Nate Carter

  • Alex Coyle

  • Tiffany Ballas

  • Jake Kurtz

  • Jeremy Pawelek


Get Like Snoop:
Socially Smoke Your Competitors
A Newsroom Mentalitizzle. For Shizzle.

By: Amy Do + Jessica Guy + Amanda Story

Whether you’re a Millennial or Baby Boomer, you likely know of Snoop D-O-double-G. You probably think of him when you think of rap and hip hop, or maybe when you think of marijuana, or maybe even when you think of lions. But, do you think of Snoop when you think of brilliant social strategists? Because maybe you should.

From narrating clips of Planet Earth on YouTube to sharing photos of his beautifully packaged and cleverly named line of high-end edible marijuana, Snoop chooses to be your not-so-ordinary public figure and refuses to let any industry define him. His social strategy is much like that of a newsroom: he keeps a pulse on what’s relevant and engages in conversations with compelling content.

A great example of a newsroom mentality that also happened to involve Snoop came to light just a couple months ago when Snoop suffered a major case of mistaken identity. Blame it on the gin and juice, #amiright? A minor spelling error led him to tag the remote town of Bogata, Romania (population less than 2,000) in an Instagram selfie when he meant to tag the bustling city of Bogota, Colombia (the country’s capital with a population over 6.7 million). The town of Bogata was like, “wait, what?!” and, without skipping a beat, launched a new Visit Bogata website, labeling it the “Best Place for Chillin’ in Romania.” Snoop responded with another post acknowledging the mistake and promising to visit the town soon (which has no hotels by the way, so they suggest bringing a sleeping bag). It was a great human moment in social history that exemplified the power of engaging in real time.

Propelled by this moment to take a closer look at Snoop’s social strategy and, well, just thinking it would be really fun to snoopify some social strategies, we reimagined some tips that we think he’d approve. Join us in trying it Doggy-style below:

In 6 Words

4 By:
Friends of SPARK

Inspired. Unexpectedly. Go.

  • Never play cards with a preschooler. Matt See | Director of Social Media & Games | HSN
  • Down the rabbit hole I go. Ashley Mooney | Integrated Marketing Director | Simply Organic Beauty
  • Brevity is not in my DNA. William Griffith | Owner & Developer | Inn at Mission San Juan Capistrano
  • Never play cards with a preschooler. Matt See | Director of Social Media & Games | HSN
  • Down the rabbit hole I go. Ashley Mooney | Integrated Marketing Director | Simply Organic Beauty
  • Brevity is not in my DNA. William Griffith | Owner & Developer | Inn at Mission San Juan Capistrano

Gary Who?Tapping Consumer Insights to Create a Candidate

Nate Carter
Alex Coyle
Elliott Bedinghaus

Disclaimer: This is not a political ad.

It’s 2016 and the average American finds themselves at a fork in the road. For the voters alienated by both leading candidates, talk has turned to voting to keep the other out – or worse, not voting at all. Beyond the intricacies of our political system that situates these two candidates as a voter’s only option, their vast resources have resulted in strong brands that dominate the conversation.

So, we at SPARK, creators of brands and tireless seekers of great stories, wondered - what if we created a presidential brand based on these consumer insights? Putting our personal politics aside, it’s our job as marketers to find the story and present it in a compelling way. Knowing that consumers were seeking this middle-ground candidate, we decided to design a campaign that reflected this positioning.

Our research revealed a group of consumers genuinely seeking a viable third choice for president. This led us to Gary.

In short, Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate. A self-made, mountain biking, Mount Everest climbing, badass former governor labeled the "sanest person running for president" by GQ. He runs on a platform that is fiscally Republican but socially Democrat. Our digging revealed a seemingly genuine third choice with policies that appeal to those voters caught between a rock and a hard place.

We are by no means political geniuses and don’t assert this information in an attempt to sway voters in any way, but we decided to ask the following question purely from a brand standpoint: If Gary had a robust brand and campaign, what would that look like to voters?

Designing Outside of the (Ballot) Box

We decided to create a brand for him that appealed to the traditionally Republican or Democrat voter not willing to vote for either Hillary or Trump. A goldilocks brand that bridges the gap between left and right while positioning him as a viable choice for President. We wanted to address age-old frustrations with transparency and honesty head-on with a brand that literally uses Johnson’s positions and policies as the basis for his marketing. A straight-talking campaign that reflects his personality to show voters exactly where he stands. And we wanted to do this all in a couple of weeks. Fun, right?

ON The Case

His name was the perfect vehicle for our messaging. Separating the “ON” in Johnson allowed us to create a system that was flexible enough to talk about any topic while still being consistent.

We wanted our use of color to reflect his policies, which borrow from both the left and right. Red and blue are always used side by side, with the name Johnson bridging the gap in purple - a literal mix of the two sides. An icon was created with this same philosophy in mind.

We also introduced a pattern, a disrupted play on the American flag that reflects the desire to break up the two party system that can be used in layout or standalone. All of these elements come together in one united visual identity that can be adapted for any execution.

This was an expedited creative exercise in brand on a subject that we’re passionate about. We wanted to use our skills and experience to create something that could potentially get people to think outside the ballot box and use their vote. Because ultimately that’s the purpose of brand - to open perspectives and engage.

Marketing Among MayhemFour Tips for Smart Marketers in an Election Year

Not Running for President in 2016?

That makes most of us. So, we talked to Michael O’Brien, VP of Sales for the television division of The E.W. Scripps Company, to gather some expertise on this topic. Here are four tips inspired by his advice to keep your marketing on track despite the insanity that is 2016.

By: Jake Kurtz & Tiffany Ballas
  • Tip 01

    Grab Your Compass

    And your adventurous spirit. We may go off-roading for this one...

    O’Brien’s number one tip? “Know your map. Know where you have to protect yourself.” The media landscape will ebb and flow drastically in a battleground state. So keep your eye on the polls and navigate alternative routes accordingly.

  • Tip 02

    Get Bent Out of Shape.

    Malleable methods are a must.

    During an election year, the flexibility of your media plan is key. Expensive political ads can easily race ahead and kick you out of your buy. To protect yourself, lock in your media early and come up with a few versions of your plan that will achieve the same outcome. If you get edged out, you’ll have a make-good option to put you back on top.

  • Tip 03

    First Impressions Matter.

    Make it a good one.

    CPMs increase with high competition. Political spend will be high on video, mobile, and Facebook. Solution? Get granular with your digital targeting and make every impression count. Organic is essential too, so invest in some great SEO and encourage people to share your posts.

  • Tip 04

    When you can’t say anything nice…

    say something smart. Or nothing at all. 

    Only play into political chatter if you plan to add some relevant value. And, above all, do it in a way that makes sense for your brand. Cynicism is at an all-time high with less than 25% of Americans describing brands as “open and honest” (source), so give your audience some authenticity and your message will have a better chance of resonating.

Chemistry By CollaborationConnections According to a Developer and a Designer

By: Jeremy Pawelek

Education is the true cornerstone of any organization. A priority for SPARK as well, we implemented a "Lunch and Learn" program to bring coworkers from different departments together to connect and collaborate. In theory, this was a great idea with the incentive of a paid lunch. There was only one problem: only a handful of people actually knew about the program and those who did know, failed to take advantage of it in their busy day-to-day schedules.

Nate Carter, Creative Director at SPARK said, "I felt like there was a specific problem to solve for. People had forgotten or didn’t know about "Lunch and Learns" while leadership set education as a priority for the coming year. I wanted to do something to get the ball rolling on this existing initiative."

So, we came up with the idea for a very Tinder-inspired piece of tech that would connect people for these "Lunch and Learns" and worked on the details from there. The functionality for our pet project came together as our very own app: MATCH.

This simple application has introduced a positive, fun, and interactive platform for coworkers to connect with one another. It also upped the incentive ante, matching you and your "date" with local lunch hot spots, including the potential to land on the best steakhouse in town for one chosen duo.

What essentially started out as a play on dating apps evolved into something much more meaningful to our culture: a revived appetite for connecting and learning from one another.

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