Spark Communications often operates in the shadows of its bigger brethren Starcom and MediaVest, but the entrepreneurial spirit of the
media boutique helped it stand out and differentiate itself in a way that the more established Publicis' media brands could not during 2009. Catering to brands that might be treated like stepchildren
in bigger media shops, or servicing media for small to midsize agencies, Spark made some, well, sparks for its clients during 2009 with innovative and strategically positioned work that might not have
been possible in bigger organizations. While much of Spark's industry leadership is derived from its connection with Publicis' VivaKi digital and media services holding company structure, its
innovation is its ability to apply that directly at a boutique servicing level that a new class of marketers can benefit from.
The unique approach worked, helping both Spark and its
expanding client roster thrive during what was otherwise a fairly dismal year for the industry. Spark CEO Ken Zasky and his team leveraged their access to VivaKi's best-in-class tools, analytics and
resources - including partnerships with Google and Microsoft - to deliver clout, scale and innovation.
In fact, the Spark team does not consider itself a media shop, so much as a new media model.
Born out of Starcom MediaVest's Starlink unit, the agency has shaken its reputation as a B-to-B media shop, and taken on some of the best-known consumer brands out there, including TGI Friday's, for
which it created "Woody," a social media phenomenon who gave away more than 500,000 free hamburgers on Facebook; or E*Trade's hilarious spokesbaby, for which Spark created a YouTube channel that made
the campaign the second most downloaded video of the year.