Spark in the News



news releases:


Local Agency Welcomes Urban Cookhouse to Charlotte

SPARK Strategic Ideas starts things cooking for new restaurant grand opening

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 10, 2017) – Urban Cookhouse, the newest restaurant brand coming soon to Park Road Shopping Center, has hired SPARK Strategic Ideas, a Charlotte-based strategic branding firm, to manage their grand opening public relations and social media.

“We love Urban Cookhouse’s passion for providing a menu full of fresh ingredients with a local flair,” said Pollyanna Falk, account supervisor at SPARK. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to introduce their brand to the Charlotte market.”

Urban Cookhouse is a farm-to-fire-to-table restaurant with locations throughout Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. The new Charlotte location is their first in North Carolina and will open in June. Many of the Urban Cookhouse meats are prepared on a Big Green Egg grill using local hickory wood and lump charcoal. This allows their pork, steak, shrimp and turkey to be packed with flavor but without the added fat.
The grand opening campaign includes the development of public relations materials, customized story pitching, a special sneak-peek event for local media, and social media support for their new Park Road location. SPARK’s grand opening experience includes a wide range of restaurants including Block & Grinder, Blaze Pizza, The Improper Pig and Smashburger, just to name a few.

About Urban Cookhouse
Urban Cookhouse has been serving the freshest ingredients since 2010. “Buy local. Eat Urban.” is the company motto that drives their lunch and dinner menu. Serving a variety of sandwiches, salads and entrees, Urban Cookhouse believes in supporting local vendors, suppliers and artisans whenever possible by using locally sourced ingredients in their recipes and selling local items in their stores. Their meats are prepared on Big Green Egg grills using local hickory wood and lump charcoal. For more information, visit

SPARK Adds Two Charlotte Restaurants to Menu of Clients

Stewart Penick's Terrace & Showmars hire SPARK Strategic Ideas

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 22, 2017) – SPARK Strategic Ideas (SPARK) recently signed on to provide services to two local food scene favorites: Stewart Penick’s Terrace (formerly Terrace Café) and Showmars. For Terrace, SPARK is providing public relations, social media and design services; and the SPARK team is relaunching the social media presence for Showmars.

“We’re excited to work with two such established restaurant brands that are so beloved in the Charlotte community,” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK. “With Terrace and Showmars both serving such delicious food with friendly Southern service, they almost make our jobs easy to help drive people to their doors—either for the first time or coming back for more!”

Terrace, a culinary favorite in Charlotte for over 10 years, is known for serving “Southern cuisine with a twist.” Formerly Terrace Café, the restaurant rebranded earlier this year to Stewart Penick’s Terrace in order to highlight their dinner offerings in addition to the brunch and lunch they are well-known for already. SPARK will help promote this change through public relations and social media, as well as build ongoing awareness and support future openings. With current locations in SouthPark and Ballantyne, Terrace is planning to open a new location in Greenville, SC in Spring 2017 and Fort Mill, SC in 2018.

Serving the Charlotte area since 1982, Showmars has tasked SPARK to help turn their loyal guests into loyal fans on social media and continue to build awareness for the brand across all social platforms. Current followers can look forward to even more pita posts and tzatziki tweets as SPARK takes over content development and community management for Showmars.

About Stewart Penick’s Terrace
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, Stewart Penick’s Terrace prides itself on serving award-winning menu items that feature their signature twist on the classics. At Terrace, the delicious Southern comfort food you crave is met with unexpected flavors that make every meal more memorable and enjoyable. For more information, visit or any of their social media sites @DineWithTerrace.

About Showmars
Showmars is a Charlotte-based restaurant chain, specializing in a fusion of Mediterranean and Southern flavors. The restaurant was founded by George Couchell, a first-generation Greek immigrant, in 1982. The first restaurant opened in Matthews, N.C. and has since expanded to 30 locations in North and South Carolina. Showmars holds true to Couchell’s original vision of a fast-casual restaurant offering exceptional food and drink, Southern hospitality and a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy meals with family and friends. They have been named “Best Family Restaurant” two years running by the Charlotte Observer and received SmartCEO’s Corporate Culture award in 2017. For more information, visit

SPARK Says Bonjour to Amélie's!

SPARK Strategic Ideas welcomes newest client


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 17, 2017) – SPARK Strategic Ideas (SPARK) welcomes their newest client, Amélie’s French Bakery & Café, with open arms (and mouths)! Amélie’s specializes in made-from-scratch sweets, savories and beverages all inspired by and prepared with French cooking techniques. They are perhaps best known for the eclectic environment of unusual décor and furnishings. With locations in Charlotte, NC; Rock Hill, SC; and Atlanta GA; Amélie’s has established a loyal base of followers since the first store opened in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood in 2007.

Amélie’s asked for SPARK’s help in establishing a consistent brand voice and presence across social media and public relations communication platforms while honoring each location’s unique vibe. In addition, SPARK will develop and execute marketing plans to support their upcoming new location opening in Park Road Shopping Center in Charlotte.

“The Amélie’s brand is so much more than its name suggests – it has become an iconic place in the communities it serves, with its warm and welcoming service and atmosphere. Once you’re there, it’s hard to leave” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK. “We’re honored to be associated with Amélie’s and consider it our great fortune to have an excuse to regularly indulge in their amazing food!”

About Amélie’s French Bakery & Café
Amélie’s French Bakery & Café opened its doors in 2008 to bring Parisian patisserie charm to the local community. Since launching the 24/7 flagship location in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood, Amélie’s has expanded to four other locations in NC, SC and GA. The bakery is known for its made-from-scratch French pastries, savories and beverages and its whimsical interior décor. Custom creations, signature favorites and seasonal features are always available for dine-in, carryout, in-house events and catering. For more information, visit

SPARK Celebrates New Hire and Top Agency List Inclusion

Jacki Keating joins team and agency included in Charlotte Business Journal list


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (November 1, 2016) – Local agency SPARK Strategic Ideas has lots of growth to celebrate this month. SPARK recently hired Jacki Keating as Account Executive (a.k.a. Jacki-Of-All-Trades), expanding the agency’s account service team, and was also named to Charlotte Business Journal’s Largest Charlotte-area Advertising and Marketing Agencies List. 

Keating joined SPARK after working as an account executive at Style House Public Relations in New York City, where she was in charge of all client consulting and PR for various fashion brands. Past editorial placements and features consisted of Cosmopolitan, Glamour, InStyle, Marie Claire, O The Oprah Magazine, SELF, Seventeen, and Teen Vogue among others. Keating also previously worked as a SaaS Media Sales Consultant where she cultivated strong business relationships with Fortune 500 companies and maintained monthly sales goals.

“This is a new start for me, and I’m looking forward to working with brands outside of the fashion industry. I’m hoping to bring fresh ideas to the table to help SPARK and our clients build long-lasting relationships,” said Keating. 

A testament to SPARK’s continued growth, both with the hiring of new employees and taking on new accounts, the agency also made the Charlotte Business Journal’s list of top advertising and marketing agencies in Charlotte for the first time. The list was compiled by submitted data, and the newspaper ranked each advertising and marketing agency in the Charlotte-area by total revenue from 2015.

“Our agency has grown steadily and consistently over the past few years, and it’s exciting to now be recognized as one of the largest advertising agencies in Charlotte,” said Anne Marie Holder, SPARK CEO. “Making the Charlotte Business Journal’s list is an honor and means a lot to the SPARK team who always works so hard.” 

Local Agency Continues Growth, Adding Two New Team Members

SPARK welcomes graphic design and social media all-stars


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 1, 2016) – Charlotte-based strategic branding agency SPARK Strategic Ideas has added two more new hires to their growing team roster. Kim Cunningham joins SPARK as the agency’s Art Director (a.k.a. Pixel Pusher) and Alex Serrano will take over as Social Media Specialist (a.k.a. Social Butterfly). 

Cunningham’s portfolio includes over 20 years of creative industry experience. She’s worked with a range of businesses, from small mom-and-pop stores to large-scale clients such as State of North Carolina, Georgia-Pacific Building Products, Hunter Douglas and more.  

“It’s always a challenge to cut through the visual clutter and drive home a specific message for clients, and that’s what I look forward to with this job,” said Cunningham. 

Serrano comes to SPARK from a diverse social media management background that includes restaurants, bars, wineries, financial service, medical practitioners, hotels and others. She specializes in many social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, LinkedIn, and more. 

“Social media is an ever-changing platform, and it never sleeps,” said Serrano. “I’m looking forward to working with many clients at SPARK and helping them create engaging content to connect with their individual audiences.”  

SPARK Says "Cheers" to New Brewery Client

The Unknown Brewing Company hires SPARK for PR services


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (August 1, 2016) – The Unknown Brewing Company, a Charlotte-based craft brewery and taproom, recently hired SPARK Strategic Ideas to manage their ongoing public relations efforts. Encouraging their followers to “step into the unknown”, The Unknown Brewing Company, led by owner Brad Shell, has tasked SPARK to promote upcoming beer releases and special events throughout the year.

“The Unknown Brewing Company has a fearless mentality, which is something we admire in our clients—someone willing to take chances,” said Pollyanna Falk, Account Supervisor at SPARK. “We are looking forward to growing their presence in the Charlotte market and helping them exceed their goals. But first, our team needs to do some ‘research and sampling’!”

Known for taking risks and adding unheard of items to their brew process, such as 99 food-grade scorpions in one beer and catnip in another, The Unknown Brewing Company is currently planning for the re-release of Vehopciraptor, a Queen City-favorite IPA, in early October and Dos AK’s in late October as the third beer in the annual Day of the Dead series. 

About The Unknown Brewing Company 
The Unknown Brewing Company, located in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood and just three blocks from Bank of America Stadium, is a local craft brewery that made Charlotte its home in 2013 when owner Brad Shell opened the 22,500-square-foot brew house. The Unknown Brewing Company’s culture is about breaking the mold and making exceptional beer, which includes a variety of unique seasonal and mainstay brews. For more information, visit

SPARK Gains a Fresh Perspective with New Employees

Agency hires brand strategist and account coordinator


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 1, 2016) – SPARK Strategic Ideas, a Charlotte-based strategic branding agency, welcomes two new members to their Charlotte-based team. Robin Foster will lead brand strategy and new business as SPARK’s Fairy Brandmother, and Molly Leff joins as Account Coordinator (a.k.a. Detail Dynamo). 

Foster brings over 30 years of experience in developing brands and strategies. She was previously Director of Marketing & Brand Development for Food Lion, where she was one of six people who created and executed a new grocery store concept called Bloom. Prior to Food Lion, Foster spent 10 years as a vice president at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in Atlanta, leading marketing and media strategy for clients including Food Lion, American Express, Shoney’s Restaurants, Krystal Restaurants, and Atlanta Centennial Olympic Properties.

“I have a reputation for being fierce when it comes to building, growing, and protecting brands. SPARK shares the same passion, and straightforward transparency is firmly embedded in their culture. SPARK is a great fit for me,” said Foster. 

With a Bachelor of Science in marketing from University of South Carolina, Leff brings organizational skills and positive energy to her role as an account coordinator. She has a depth of experience from providing local marketing support for large non-profits such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life as well as businesses in the manufacturing, retail and hospitality industries. 

“I’m looking forward to growing and being challenged at SPARK. My goal is to help move work through the agency efficiently. I’m passionate about the details and won’t hesitate to ‘crack the whip’ if necessary,” said Leff. 

SPARK Expands Growing Team with New Controller

Stacey Pullen becomes "Wizard of Ops" at SPARK


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 1, 2016) – SPARK Strategic Ideas, a Charlotte-based strategic branding agency, has added a new member to the ranks. Stacey Pullen has stepped in to be SPARK’s Controller (a.k.a. Wizard of Ops) and is responsible for all things related to accounting, human resources and operations. 

Pullen started her career in the creative industry as a professional photographer and discovered her love of numbers and data while managing profitability for the photo studio. After taking accounting classes, she began working in the accounting department for a securities company but soon realized she was missing a creative outlet. Pullen transitioned to the accounting director role at Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy in Charlotte, N.C., and her skillset grew to include human resources management, office management and operations. 

“My passion is being able to make creativity profitable. I feel like I’ve finally found the place where I can do just that. SPARK is somewhere that I can share my love of numbers and my creativity,” said Pullen. “It feels great to be part of this team!” 

SPARK’s CEO, Anne Marie Holder, has worked with Pullen in the past and may be her biggest fan.  

“Having Stacey help us day-to-day will strengthen SPARK and allow the team to focus on creating breakthrough results for our clients. She brings not only an analytical strength but also her own creativity, which is a rare find!” said Holder. 

Local Agency Grows Client Roster

SPARK Strategic Ideas partners with six new regional and national businesses


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 26, 2015) – SPARK Strategic Ideas, a Charlotte-based strategic branding agency, announces the addition of six new client accounts – The Cellar at Duckworth’s, Ace & TJ’s Grin Kids, Pulte Homes, HarperLove, Discovery Place, and American Forestry Management.
The Cellar at Duckworth’s, an American gastropub, hired SPARK to spearhead public relations efforts and assist with brand strategic planning. Ace & TJ’s Grin Kids, a not-for-profit organization designed to enhance the lives of terminally ill and chronically disabled children, enlisted Spark to manage public relations and strategic planning around their annual Walt Disney World trip. Pulte Homes, a leader in energy-efficient homebuilding, partnered with Spark for the launch of Carolina Orchards by the Del Webb community in Fort Mill, SC.
“We are ecstatic to be partnering with so many unique brands that are seeking to enhance their image across various markets,” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK Strategic Ideas. “We love working with a broad range of clients and having the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a broad range of industries.”
HarperLove, an international corporation who manufactures adhesives and additives for the corrugated cardboard industry, chose Spark for a brand refresh and the development of a new website.  Also joining the Spark clientele is Discovery Place, a science and technology museum, which Spark is assisting with media planning and buying for their Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life exhibit, launching in November.
American Forest Management, the largest forest consulting and real estate brokerage firm in the United States, chose Spark as their agency of record to provide a full list of services around its 50th anniversary. The scope of work includes extensive research that will ultimately lead to a new strategic branding direction for the company, along with advertising, marketing, public relations and digital work.

Pollyanna Falk Promoted to Account Supervisor

SPARK Strategic Ideas Promotes From Within Agency

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 13, 2015) – SPARK Strategic Ideas, a Charlotte-based strategic branding agency, announced today the promotion of Pollyanna Falk to Account Supervisor. 

“Pollyanna has contributed immensely to our agency’s success,” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK. “She has the unique ability to both see the big picture and manage the details with ease. Pollyanna continues to exceed our expectations and those of our clients. I am grateful every day to have her as a part of the SPARK family.”

Falk came to SPARK in 2013 as an account executive and has over nine years of agency account management experience. Prior to joining the company, Falk worked as a marketing manager at Chicago-based agency, Dobbe Marketing & PR. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Lambuth University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.

In her new role, Falk will lead the account service team and will continue to offer strategic recommendations as she works closely with SPARK’s clients. “Pollyanna continues to impress us daily with her expertise, new ideas, insatiable curiosity and the ability to navigate complex challenges and opportunities for our clients,” Holder remarked. 

SPARK Strategic Ideas Wins PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence

Charlotte agency presented with prestigious award at national ceremony


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 29, 2015) – SPARK Strategic Ideas (Spark) received a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence at the 2015 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) ceremony for their work on the pre-opening campaign for SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium. This national award event honors agencies and organizations that achieve the highest standard of performance in the field of public relations.


For the award entry, SPARK outlined their process and the results achieved throughout an intensive six-month campaign to raise public awareness for the opening of SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium. The pre-opening strategy centered around five major milestone events leading up to the grand opening in 2014.


SPARK representatives traveled to New York City to attend this year’s Silver Anvil Awards Ceremony and received an Award of Excellence in the “Events and Observances – Over Seven Days” category. In this specific category, SPARK was in the company of several nationally recognized brands including Allstate and MasterCard.


“We are proud to receive a Silver Anvil Award of Excellence as a result of our strategic public relations planning and execution for SEA LIFE’s opening,” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of Spark. “It is an honor to receive national recognition for our team’s hard work and unwavering commitment to producing results for our clients.”


For more than 60 years, the Silver Anvils have recognized over 1,000 organizations, including solo practitioners, agencies of all sizes, businesses, corporations, non-profits and government agencies. The 16 categories and various subcategories represent the extensive contribution of public relations to our world today.


SPARK Strategic Ideas Chosen as 2015 Silver Anvil Award Finalist

Charlotte agency selected as a finalist for prestigious public relations award


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 4, 2015) – SPARK Strategic Ideas (SPARK) created a campaign for SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium that earned SPARK recognition as a finalist in the 2015 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Silver Anvil Awards. The Silver Anvil is awarded annually to organizations reaching the highest levels of professional achievement in the public relations industry. SPARK is the only Charlotte-headquartered agency to receive this honor in 2015.

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord (SEA LIFE) tasked SPARK with planning, conceptualizing and executing public relations, event management and social media around six key milestone events culminating with SEA LIFE’s Grand Opening. The short timetable for campaign strategy and implementation provided SPARK with a five-month window to complete all events, starting in mid-Sept. 2014 and ending with the official grand opening on Feb. 20, 2014.
“We are honored to be named a finalist for the Silver Anvil Awards and recognized for our work with SEA LIFE,” said Pollyanna Falk, Account Executive at SPARK. “The Silver Anvil is considered the most prestigious award attainable in the field of public relations. As a growing agency, we are proud to showcase our dedication to providing strategic and creative work.”
This year’s Silver Anvil competition drew 804 submissions, which were strategically narrowed down to 136 finalists by a panel of judges comprised of public relations professionals from throughout the country. In the Silver Anvil Award’s 60-plus-year history, finalists have been recognized for exemplary professional skill, creativity, and resourcefulness.


Winners will be announced and presented at the Silver Anvil Awards ceremony in New York City on June 4, 2015.


Cabela’s, the World’s Foremost Outfitter, Hires SPARK for Fort Mill Grand Opening


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 19, 2015) — Cabela’s Incorporated, the World’s Foremost Outfitter® of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, recently hired SPARK Strategic Ideas (SPARK) to partner with public relations efforts for its new store opening in Fort Mill, S.C. The 104,000-square-foot store, located along Interstate 77, is scheduled to open March 12, 2015.


“The SPARK team is excited to partner with Cabela’s on its much-anticipated store opening in Fort Mill,” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK Strategic Ideas. “Building awareness and enthusiasm is a strength of SPARK’s and we’re looking forward to introducing the Cabela’s retail experience to the greater Charlotte market.”


The Fort Mill store will be Cabela’s second location in South Carolina and will feature museum-quality wildlife displays, an indoor archery range, mountain replica, aquarium and thousands of hunting, fishing and other high-quality outdoor products.


“Cabela’s is thrilled to be opening a store in Fort Mill and wanted a partner who could help share our excitement with the thousands of loyal Cabela’s customers in the Carolinas,” said Andrea Crass, Director of Communication and Partnerships for Cabela’s. “SPARK’s knowledge and experience in the community will be a great asset.”


SPARK has managed a number of grand opening events from restaurants to retail locations, most noteworthy the new SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium at Concord Mills. Based on the amount of media coverage, SEA LIFE’s parent company, Merlin Entertainments, dubbed the launch campaign one of the most successful attraction openings to-date and adopted the SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord opening as a “best practice” for all future openings of the brand. Other grand openings managed by SPARK include multiple locations of Moe’s Southwest Grill, Hubee D’s, Smashburger, Block & Grinder, Central Coffee, The Improper Pig and more.


About Cabela’s Incorporated
Cabela’s Incorporated, headquartered in Sidney, Nebraska, is a leading specialty retailer, and the world’s largest direct marketer, of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise. Since the Company’s founding in 1961, Cabela’s has grown to become one of the most well-known outdoor recreation brands in the world, and has long been recognized as the World’s Foremost Outfitter. Through Cabela’s growing number of retail stores and its well-established direct business, it offers a wide and distinctive selection of high-quality outdoor products at competitive prices while providing superior customer service. Cabela’s also issues the Cabela’s CLUB® Visa credit card, which serves as its primary customer loyalty rewards program. 


Aerial Lift Manufacturer Reaches New Heights with Local Agency

Teupen US hires Spark Strategic Ideas to support national marketing efforts


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (January 7, 2015) – Teupen USA Inc., located in Charlotte, NC, an international aerial lift manufacturer has appointed SPARK Strategic Ideas to assist in marketing efforts. Along with Teupen’s sales and service headquarters, SPARK will be providing ongoing e-mail marketing (e-newsletters and e-blasts), and digital marketing (SEO, PPC, LinkedIn) services, as well as media planning and buying and graphic design.


“We are looking to strengthen our marketing program, and I’m confident SPARK will surpass all expectations,” says Scott Reynolds, President of Teupen US. ”It’s been an incredible experience so far listening to the innovative ideas of the SPARK team and I’m ready to watch our company grow through this partnership.”


Teupen’s vision is to be the world's leading solutions partner for every access challenge at height where practical access ensuring workers safety is paramount. Technical expertise and creative thinking are a few of the strengths that the Teupen team is known for when it comes to ensuring top-notch consumer quality for customers.

“We appreciate the way that Teupen listens to its customers and is constantly thinking of new ways to enhance what they offer,” says Anne Marie Holder, ceo of SPARK. “We utilize the same approach with our clients and are excited to begin our relationship with Teupen.”

About Teupen
For more than 35 years, Teupen has proven to be the world’s leading manufacturer of compact track lifts, sometimes referred to as access lifts, spider lifts, aerial lifts, articulated lifts and booms lifts. Teupen's goals are to solve customer’s height access challenges and help create sustainable cost and competitive advantages by using their products. For more information, visit


SPARK Heats Up, Adds New Clients to Growing Roster

SPARK partners with Smashburger, Dean & Deluca and Girl Scouts


CHARLOTTE, N.C. July 24, 2014 — SPARK Strategic Ideas, a Charlotte-based strategic branding agency, announces the addition of three new client accounts—Smashburger Cotswold, Dean & Deluca Charlotte and Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council.


Franchise owners for Smashburger, America’s fastest growing “better burger” restaurant, selected SPARK to assist with the pre-opening and grand opening event planning and public relations for their new Cotswold location. Gourmet food store Dean & Deluca has hired Spark to handle public relations and media planning and buying for their three Charlotte-area locations. And, Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council, the Girl Scouts of the USA’s Charlotte chapter, has hired Spark to re-design and launch their new website.


“Our team is thrilled to be working with such well-respected national brands that are seeking to expand and enhance their image on the local level,” said Pollyanna Falk, Account Executive at Spark Strategic Ideas. “Spark’s depth of experience in the Charlotte market is well suited to assist these clients in exceeding their goals, and we’re very excited to partner with them.”


About Smashburger
Smashburger is America’s fastest growing, fast casual “better burger” restaurant with 275 corporate and franchise restaurants operating in 30 states and in five international countries. The company began in 2007 with the vision of Rick Schaden and funding by Consumer Capital Partners—the private equity firm that he and his father Richard own. By offering fresh, premium “smashed to order” burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, signature side items and hand-spun Haagen-Dazs shakes, Smashburger has modernized the way people think about burgers. Known for localizing its menu in every market with regionally inspired burgers and side items and offering local craft beers, Smashburger has received numerous awards including topping Fast Casual’s 2012 Top Mover & Shakers list, America’s Most Promising Company by Forbes magazine, INC. 500’s List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies INC’s #9 Hire Power Award winner, and is regularly voted “best burger’ in cities all around the world. To learn more, visit


About Dean & Deluca
Over its history, DEAN & DELUCA has earned a reputation as an icon of New York City culture and lifestyle. Revered as a hub for the discovery of new culinary trends and little known culinary traditions, DEAN & DELUCA is the only brand that has the cultural status and global brand awareness to be the defining brand in gourmet food retail around the world. Since our initial store opening, DEAN & DELUCA has added additional locations in New York City; Washington D.C.; Charlotte, North Carolina; Leawood, Kansas and Napa Valley, California. In addition, several international locations have opened in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, The Middle East and the Philippines opening in November.


About Girl Scouts, Hornets' Nest Council 
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts, Hornets' Nest Council serves more 23,000 girls and volunteers in eight counties of North and South Carolina - Anson, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Rowan, Stanly, Union and York (S.C.) counties. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect, or donate to Girl Scouts, visit or call 704-731-6500.  


Charlotte CBS Affiliate Hires SPARK Strategic Ideas

WBTV selects SPARK to take on new media direction


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (July 22, 2014) — WBTV, the CBS-affiliated television station serving the Charlotte market, has chosen SPARK Strategic Ideas, a full-service agency in Charlotte, to manage all of their media planning and buying. The Spark team also plans to partner with WBTV’s in-house social media team to provide support in social media implementation.


“WBTV is excited to partner with SPARK to enhance our advertising and social media efforts through creative and strategic planning,” said John Rice, WBTV Director of Marketing. “We believe our partnership with SPARK will help to maximize the awareness of our brand in the Charlotte area through their innovative marketing ideas and proven track record.”


WBTV, a Raycom Media property, serves the country's 25th largest designated market area (DMA) in the U.S. amid a total of 201 total television markets as measured by Nielsen Media Research. Founded by Jefferson Standard Insurance Company of Greensboro in 1949, WBTV was the 13th television station in the United States, the first in the Carolinas and the oldest station between Richmond and Atlanta.


“WBTV offers the Charlotte community a first class product and we intend to reciprocate that from a media planning and execution standpoint,” said Patty Reuss, SPARK Senior Media Planner and Buyer. “We’re very excited to have won this business.”


About WBTV and Raycom Media
WBTV, LLC is a Raycom Media television station. Raycom Media, Inc. was created in 1996 with the purchase of 15 television stations, two radio stations, and a sports marketing, production, events management, and distribution company. Shortly after this first acquisition, Raycom Media quickly acquired two other companies and began an unheard of growth in the media business.


Raycom, an employee-owned company, is one of the nation's largest broadcasters and owns and/or provides services for 53 television stations in 37 markets and 18 states. Raycom stations cover 13.1% of U.S. television households and employ nearly 4,000 individuals in full and part-time positions. In addition to television stations, Raycom owns Raycom Sports (a marketing, production and events management and distribution company), Tupelo-Honey Productions (a NY-based production company), Limerick Studios (a Charlotte, NC-based motion graphics design house), and Broadview Media (a post production/digital signage company based in Montgomery, AL). Raycom is also responsible for the design and hosting of Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail website.

Raycom owns over-the-air syndication, regional cable, and digital media rights to Atlantic Coast Conference Athletics.


With a strong belief in community, Raycom Media television stations take editorial positions on key community issues. It is the vision of the company that it be involved in the communities its broadcast properties serve. By editorializing on local issues and seeking out divergent points of view, Raycom Media television stations create an atmosphere of community dialog.

Raycom Media is headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama.


Global Toy Manufacturer Hires SPARK Strategic Ideas

Schleich chooses locally for support on North American expansion


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 1, 2013) — Schleich, a global toy manufacturer based in Germany, has SPARK Spark Strategic Ideas, a full-service agency in Charlotte, to manage their North American market research, social media and various public relations campaigns. In an effort to meet growing demand, Schleich plans to fortify their presence in the United States and Canada.


“Schleich is very excited to collaborate with such a strategically minded agency that will enable us to strengthen our brand in the North American markets,” said Schleich USA Marketing Manager Rita Madsen. “With the synergy between Schleich and SPARK, we will further maximize our efforts to increase the consumer connection with our product lines.”


Schleich specializes in unique, hand-painted figurines of wildlife, farm life and fantasy creatures. Schleich currently holds the license for producing The Smurfs™ figurines and will be releasing a Peanuts™ figurine line this July. The figurines are designed to be as realistic as possible in order to foster an educational experience able to be shared with children, parents and teachers alike. With nearly 50 million figurines sold per year, Schleich products can be found in 50 countries across the globe.


“Schleich’s brand exemplifies imagination and innovation, which aligns with the type of work SPARK produces,” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK Strategic Ideas. “Our familiarity with unique companies provides us with the skills necessary to elevate Schleich even further in their North American market.”


In 2013, Schleich relocated their North American headquarters from Ottawa, Ontario Canada to Charlotte, NC creating 60 new jobs for the area. Seen as a burgeoning city, Charlotte will act as a production and distribution hub for Schleich’s products.


About Schleich
The company, founded 79 years ago by Friedrich Schleich in Schwäbisch Gmünd, is one of the largest toy manufacturers in Germany and a leading provider of original play concepts internationally. The famous toy figurines from Schleich are sold in over 50 countries and have found their way into children‘s rooms all around the world. As a global player with Swabian roots, today the company is majority owned by the European private investment group Ardian. The other shareholders are CEO Dr. Thomas van Kaldenkerken and CFO Erich Schefold. The design of the Schleich play worlds and the creation of the production tools are done in Germany, as are the quality and safety tests.


Charlotte Agency Strengthens Captive Insurance Firm’s Brand

SPARK Strategic Ideas is selected to create a new website and marketing materials for Atlas Insurance Management


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 21, 2013) — Atlas Insurance Management (Atlas) recently hired SPARK Strategic Ideas to help redesign their brand image. In the first year, SPARK will create a new website, a corporate brochure and tradeshow display. Starting in 2015, SPARK will provide ongoing public relations services, quarterly e-newsletters and SEO services.


“I chose to partner with SPARK because I am impressed with their enthusiasm, creativity and strategic thinking”, said Martin Eveleigh, Chairman of Atlas Insurance Management. “I expect this partnership to continue for many years to come.”


Atlas is a leading independent captive insurance management firm, providing services in major U.S. and offshore domiciles. Captive insurance is insurance provided by a company that is formed to cover the risks and assets of its parent company.


“Immersing ourselves in Atlas’ brand helped Spark create a strategic plan for growth,” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK Strategic Ideas. “To reach their growth goals, we plan to roll out different materials over a specific time period and layer the elements into a cohesive strategy.”


About Atlas Insurance Management
Founded in 2002, Atlas Insurance Management is a leading independent insurance management firm, providing captive insurance consulting, formation and management services in the major U.S. and offshore domiciles. The firm has worked with all types of captive insurance companies and managed a full spectrum of captive programs for a diverse clientele. Atlas operates offices in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Cayman Islands. For more information, visit or call 704.945.6620.


SPARK Strategic Ideas Hired to Make a Splash for SEA LIFE Aquarium Area Launch


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 6, 2013) — SEA LIFE Aquarium, a U.K.-based brand of Merlin Entertainments, has selected local agency SPARK Strategic Ideas to assist with social media, public relations and media for their newest aquarium location in the Concord Mills mall. The aquarium will feature marine habitats and displays with over 5,000 creatures including sharks, seahorses, jellyfish and rays.


“We are very excited to have such an innovative and strategically minded agency onboard that will enable us to place SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord on the map. With their vast experience and expertise in public relations and advertising, we are able to further maximize our efforts to provide a first class guest experience at our attraction,” said SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Marketing Manager Jack Stevenson.


SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium will be the sixth SEA LIFE Aquarium in the U.S. with locations already in Arizona, California, Texas, Missouri and Minnesota. The brand also features marine attractions in the U.K. and Europe.


“Spark is thrilled to collaborate with Merlin Entertainments to ensure the success of their new location,” said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK Strategic Ideas. “Our vast experience in travel and tourism further readies us to introduce SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium to the community and create excitement for the Spring 2014 grand opening.”


Groundbreaking for the 36,000-square-foot Charlotte area aquarium will take place in September and is expected to be complete in early spring 2014. For the latest updates and to follow the progress of SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord, visit or @SEALIFECC on Twitter.


About SEA LIFE Aquarium
SEA LIFE is the world’s largest aquarium chain with more than 40 attractions around the world. Each aquarium allows visitors to experience the magical world beneath our seas with marine habitats, displays, and close encounters with sea creatures. SEA LIFE provides a glimpse of the diversity of marine life while also playing an active role in animal and environmental conservation.


SPARK Hires New Account Executive and Creative Strategist/Copywriter


CHARLOTTE, N.C.(Sept. 5, 2013) — SPARK Strategic Ideas has added two new members to their growing team. Pollyanna Falk is the agency’s newest Account Executive. She will work closely with clients on the management end and engage in day-to-day communication. Steve Lasch will serve in a consultant capacity as SPARK’s Creative Strategist and Copywriter. He will be conducting research in consumer motivation, crafting unique promotion concepts and writing creative, thoughtful copy.

Before coming to SPARK, Falk worked as a Marketing Manager for Dobbe Marketing & PR in Chicago where she managed client projects, wrote copy, and directed graphic design while maintaining client and vendor relationships. She was also the Editor for the Chicago Northwest Suburban Alumnae Club of Alpha Gamma Delta. Falk graduated from Lambuth University in Jackson, TN, where she received a BBA in Marketing.


“I’m really looking forward to building strong relationships with new and existing clients and helping them grow their businesses,” says Falk.


Lasch previously worked at Charlotte-based advertising agency, Loeffler Ketchum Mountjoy as an Account Planning and Creative Director where he was responsible for the creative output of the company. Lasch received a BA in English from Miami University in Oxford, OH.


“I’m stoked by the challenge of parsing through today’s consumer motivations. And, of course, creating ideas that get response,” says Lasch.


“We are extremely excited to add Pollyanna and Steve to the SPARK team. Their individual talents will strengthen our team and only build upon our agency’s commitment to excellence. We are looking forward to immersing them both in all things SPARK,” said CEO Anne Marie Holder.

SPARK Named Moe’s Southwest Grill 2012 Agency of the Year


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 14, 2013) — Moe’s Southwest Grill announced that SPARK Strategic Ideas has been honored with their highest Field Award, MVP Agency of the Year for 2012. This award is given to one of the sixteen agencies restaurant franchisees work with in co-ops. MVP’s are recognized based on their top-notch client support, ability to execute creative strategy and contribution to overall market sales.


“SPARK helped achieve the highest co-op sales increase at 12.5% in Charlotte over 2011, adding over a million dollars in top-line revenue. Their team works tirelessly to provide plans that meet strategy, provide a layered approach and continue to increase local awareness,” said Nicolle DuBose, Director of Field Marketing for Moe’s.


SPARK Strategic Ideas has been working with Moe’s Southwest Grill since 2010. In addition to working with the 14 Charlotte area Moe’s locations, SPARK also is the agency of record for the Moe’s Triad, N.C. and Hampton Roads, V.A. area locations.


Most recently, SPARK Strategic Ideas has also broadened their Moe’s Southwest Grill involvement to include the Birmingham, Madison, Tuscaloosa, Auburn and Decatur, A.L., and Columbus, O.H. area locations.


“Our team is extremely grateful to work with the Moe’s Southwest Grill team of dynamic professionals who have allowed us immerse ourselves in their business. It’s very rewarding to partner with such an energetic brand that we’ve been able to see grow exponentially in their fan base and in sales,” said SPARK Strategic Ideas president and CEO Anne Marie Holder.


In total, SPARK provides marketing, advertising, public relations and social media support for 49 Moe’s Southwest Grill locations nationwide.


About Moe's Southwest Grill
Welcome to Moe’s! Founded in 2000 in Atlanta, GA, Moe’s Southwest Grill is a fast-casual restaurant franchise featuring fresh, handmade, customizable southwestern food in a welcoming environment that rocks. Moe’s is committed to serving only the highest quality ingredients 100% of the time at our more than 500 locations in the U.S and abroad. While Moe’s is best known for its burritos packed with a choice of more than 20 fresh, flavorful ingredients, the menu also features kid’s, vegetarian and low-calorie options, all served with free chips and salsa.

SPARK Strategic Ideas Brings Home 2nd Award to an Agency Ablaze


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Feb. 25, 2013) — SPARK Strategic Ideas recently brought home a Charlotte ADDY Award, acknowledging the strategic creativity the agency is known for across the Carolinas. SPARK services a wide variety of clients in the areas of strategic planning, advertising, media, web and public relations.


This year’s creative won a 2013 Silver ADDY in the “Collateral Material” category under the “Special Event material” subcategory. The entry, a matchbook invitation created for the Spark Open House in 2012, included real matches and event information for the agency’s celebration. The event, appropriately entitled “Fan the Flame”, welcomed agency clients, local media, family and friends.

“It is a fun challenge to treat ourselves as the client. Whether it’s creating a unique direct mail message or researching new business opportunities, it’s important to set the bar high with what you’ve done to improve your own agency, “ said Anne Marie Holder, CEO of SPARK Strategic Ideas.

Since its humble beginnings in a local coffee shop, SPARK grew 40% in overall revenue from 2011 to 2012 and has shown it is a fierce contender in the full-service agency arena. The matchbook submission is a premiere example of what to look out for from Spark as its talent spreads like wildfire.