My Summer in the Bullpen

In baseball, the bullpen is where pitchers warm-up and prepare before entering a game. The bullpen is a critical and essential space for pitchers because if they don’t properly prepare before entering the game, they could injure their arm and/or give up hits that may cost their team the win.Internships for students are like the bullpen for pitchers. An internship provides students with a taste of “real world experience” by working in a career that they hope to pursue after graduation.


The Bullpen at Sparq Designs

It is a stepping stone to network with industry thought leaders, an opportunity to apply the skills you’ve learned in the classroom directly to the working environment, and to contribute your unique skills to the company as it flourishes in success. Getting a job these days is very competitive and having an internship will not only set you apart from other candidates, but they are important for college students to gain valuable experience before entering the workforce.

At the beginning of the summer, Nick, President of Sparq Designs transformed a hallway storage closet into a revolutionary and modern looking office where the interns could work collaboratively to create and execute ideas. From that point on, Jim, the company Vice President, declared the interns’ office to be known as “the bullpen.” As an intern I shared the bullpen with Andrew, the other Sparq intern for the summer, and we had many laughs, meaningful conversations, and were able to help and advise each other with various tasks and projects. It was such a rewarding experience to not only learn alongside Andrew, but to also gain a true and genuine friendship.

As the Digital Marketing Intern for Sparq Designs, my responsibilities included designing content that would be displayed across various social media platforms, being sent out on photo shoots, updating content on websites, and a parachute of additional tasks. It was so rewarding to see an idea that you thought of in a brainstorming session being displayed in a business or the utilization of meaningful engagement created for social media. Even though I was an intern I felt like a valued member of the team and was contributing to the overall mission, vision, and success of Sparq Designs.


Sparq’s Summer 2016 Interns, Bri & Andrew

An instance that I remember vividly in my mind is when we developed a marketing video concept in a morning meeting for one of our clients, Glass Gone Wow. By mid-day, we shot and edited the video and by the end of the work day, we were able to see audience engagement from the video across their social media accounts. It was amazing to see the birth of an idea in a morning meeting and then see it come to fruition in a matter of hours.

Some of my favorite memories from the summer included the adventures we had walking to Whole Foods on our lunch break, conversations over $10 salads and Guru Energy Drinks. Having the chance to get to know the Sparq team on a personal level outside of the working environment made my internship experience even more enjoyable.  

After completing my summer internship at Sparq Designs, I feel that the experience I gained has prepared me for when the manager calls the bullpen, and tells me, it’s my time to enter the game.

At Sparq Designs we thrive on our ability to create and foster relationships; relationships between brands and consumers, and the relationships between our clients and ourselves. Internships are one of the most valuable experiences a student can gain during their undergraduate studies. While classroom work is important, real experience can help get your foot in the door when you enter the workforce. Learn about internship opportunities at Sparq Designs here.

4 of the Most Unique Holiday Advertisements Thus Far

Thanksgiving has passed, and now it’s time to jump into the holiday season. Businesses and corporations have already dove headfirst into the 2016 holiday season with new ideas and holiday advertisements that aren’t easily forgotten. Here are just a few of our favorite holiday commercials so far:

Apple uses Frankenstein to symbolize unity during the holidays

In the words of our senior project manager, Adele: “So cute. Want to die,” this Apple commercial really tugged at our team’s heart strings. When the little girl decided to join in with Frankie’s singing, we couldn’t help but tear up.

Aside from the adorable story line, the ending of Frankenstein’s anecdote really brought the advertisement full circle. Ending with the words “Open your heart to everyone,” Apple’s advertisement touched upon the current political atmosphere. Apple has a history of focusing in on unity in their advertisements like in their Human Family advertisement that spotlighted a Maya Angelou poem about global diversity.

With the current animosity post-election, this advertisement not only promotes Apple products, but encourages the acceptance of everyone despite background or ethnicity.

Xfinity bridges the gap with technology and different generations during the holidays

Beginning with a “celebrity reads mean tweets” vibe, there is just something hilarious about people reading snide subtweets about themselves. And there is something even funnier about grandparents reading passive aggressive subtweets.

Our VP of digital marketing Kait, loves the interaction between sentiment and humor that makes this advertisement so memorable.

When the grandparents acknowledge their dated lifestyle, they update and equip their homes with Xfinity cable and WiFi. The advertisement symbolizes a gap being closed between the younger generation and older generation, ultimately proving that technology can bring people together for the holidays rather than isolate people on their phones.

Amazon Prime touches on political atmosphere with religious acceptance holiday advertisements

Amazon Prime’s holiday commercial aired at a pivotal time for this country. Although some people may think that a holiday commercial prior to Thanksgiving is a little premature, some critics note the insinuated dig at early November president-elect Donald Trump.

Despite the political criticism of the advertisement, the Amazon Prime ad comments on the recurring holiday theme of bringing  family, friends,and colleagues together to celebrate the holiday season.

Our company president Nick, thinks that the Amazon Prime commercial “was a great way to bridge the cultural gap of religion. Because at the end of the day, we are all just people.”

The advertisement ends with both religious leaders on their knees, praying to their respective belief with the Amazon gift in use.

M&S creates advertisement celebrating Mrs. Claus’ holiday powers

Lastly, on a more lighthearted note, this M&S advertisement shows the feminine boss-lady side of the often forgotten about Mrs. Claus. M&S is an international, multi-channel retailer. Their advertisement exhibits an emotional response, as the little boy in the ad starts out fighting with his sister.

He writes a letter to Mrs. Claus asking for a special gift for his sister. Mrs. Claus sneaks out in her bright red helicopter, and sneaks a gift under their Christmas tree.

Our social media manager, Lizz, appreciates the emphasis behind Mrs. Claus, because in this advertisement Mrs. Claus can do just what Santa does and can make Christmas wishes come true.


These are just some of our favorite holiday advertisements so far. We are looking forward to more memorable ads as the holiday season continues. What holiday ads have stuck out to you?




Limitless Creativity: Is There A Wrong Answer When It Comes To Being Creative?

Coming straight out of college and being thrown into the real world can be a daunting experience. It can be unsettling and lonely at times. Sometimes it can feel as if you lost because it is all so new; so different. But in those moments you truly find your identity. What makes you, you. What separates yourself from all the other John’s or Jack’s or Sarah’s in the world. I believe that everyone is unique and has a niche that makes them shine. I think this thinking applies to any standard in the world, just because you don’t see eye to eye with someone on does that mean your wrong? Is there even a ‘wrong’ answer when its comes to being creative?

College was a fun time. For four short years you experience something that you never realize is so incredible until you receive your diploma and realize that it’s over. You make lifelong friends, experience new things (like cracking an egg for the first time because you never learned how to cook), and gain an unmeasurable amount of knowledge that really guides you for the rest of your life.

I was very fortunate to go to an incredible school that really let you be yourself. I was even more fortunate to have graduated from that school with a degree in Visual Communication and Design. I loved everything about my program at Kent State. Even more so I loved every Professor that I was lucky enough to even be in a room with. They had so much professional experience, from designing type faces, to creating incredible and dynamic companies, to illustrating for the wall street journal. It was a ride that I’ll never forget. Don’t get me wrong there were moments where I wanted to drop the program because I didn’t think it was a good fit for me and I just didn’t think I would make it through, but those Professors pushed me to level I never thought was possible and I owe my degree to them.

Upon graduating college and starting my professional career with Sparq Designs I have been even more lucky to work with such humble group of people just as passionate about this field as I am. In working with so many diverse clients, and meeting my fellow designers from various universities I started to question my education a little bit. Thinking back on my four years there was a consistent x factor that went into designing, and it was “well will the teacher like this.” And that’s when I got to thinking, is there really a way to tell someone that their creative ideas are wrong?

via QuotesGram

via QuotesGram

Telling someone they aren’t creative is like telling Leonardo DiCaprio he isn’t a good actor, or telling Emma Watson she isn’t beautiful…..Everyone is creative in their own way and that’s what makes creativity so unique, everyone has their own take on it. That’s what I always thought was odd in school. In group critiques we would critique someone else’s design, which I though wasn’t right cause who am I to tell someone that their design was wrong. Now most of the time the critiques were for layout purposes such as alignment, and hierarchy, but sometimes a teacher wouldn’t like how a student laid something out, but then there were students that likes how that layout looked, so who was right and who was wrong, it’s all personal preference if you ask me.

I read an article written by a woman by the name of Carolyn Kaufman Psy.D. and in that article she said “One of the biggest barriers to creativity is this notion of the “right” answer. We spend our lives being taught to look for and respond with a predetermined answer some other person discovered or delineated, so of course when we want to come up with something original, we’re stymied.” I think that applies to a lot of creative programs in college, when a professor tells someone they are wrong, it’s usually not wrong it’s just different. And I think that different needs to be embraced more than shut down. There is not one right way to be creative. All of my teachers have been very successful for their own take on creativity, and they have been amazing at passing down their knowledge to us as students. I’m not criticizing them by any means, I’m just raising the question if there is a way to judge someone’s creativity.

The greatest thing I have learned from my short months in the professional world is that there is no limitations on creativity. There is no right and wrong. And I think we limit ourselves as designers by not pushing ourselves enough in school because we are always seeking to please other people rather than take a risk and try something new and exciting. I loved every moment I spent at Kent State, and am thankful for all those who pushed me and sculpted my education, but if I learned anything since I have moved on from the college lifestyle it is don’t limit yourself. Push yourself and let your creativity be what it wants to be because you are unique and you need let that uniqueness shine through.


sparqheadshots2016-5Chad Parise is a Graphic and UX Designer  at Sparq Designs, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh. Learn more about him, here. If you have questions about building a relationship, contact the  Sparq team today.

Connect with Chad on LinkedIn




Why Companies Should Learn to Play the Infinite Game

From a marketing standpoint, what do multimillion dollar technological corporations, both bipartisan presidential candidates, telecommunication holding companies, and fast food chains have in common? If you guessed “the obnoxious over-use of comparative advertising,” you’d have hit the nail right on the head.I’m going to preface this by saying that although I am in the marketing field, I am your typical millennial consumer. I am the person that buys products from a company if the campaign centered around it is cause-related. I take BuzzFeed’s personality quizzes without even realizing it, and I buy my groceries based off of ShutTheKaleUp’s Instagram feed. I am who you should be marketing to, so when I question a brand or figure’s campaign strategy, my thoughts should be worth considering.So here’s my question this time around: Can comparative advertising just die out so that brands can focus on their authentic self and playing the infinite game?

@ShutTheKaleUp Instagram feed

@ShutTheKaleUp Instagram feed

The thought behind this article stemmed from the heat that rose from my cheeks during all of three of the Presidential Debates – which I’m very glad are finally over.

“How can they be allowed to stand there and just bash each other? When will they tell me what they can do for me and the country as a whole?”A day later I saw a commercial for Pennsylvania State Senator Pat Toomey, defaming his opponent Katie McGinty. Whatever, it’s what politicians do, right?

I personally have always found the constant need to “one-up” a competitor to be a bit off-putting. It takes me back to high school when someone would say, “I got a B on my test,” and someone would boast, “Well I got an A… and I didn’t even study!” Cool. I don’t recall anyone asking… but good for you.

The notion that we need remind everyone why “we’re better” is a very distasteful way of selling, and I truly think it’s unnecessary when appealing to millennials – you know, the largest living generation in the United States.

Here’s some important knowledge:

Simon Sinek's Start With Why

Simon Sinek’s Start With Why

“Start With Why” Author Simon Sinek has been working the idea that content marketing is an infinite game. The finite game is known players, fixed rules and an agreed upon objective.

The infinite game known and unknown players, the rules are changeable and the objective is to perpetuate the game.

To put it simply, finite players are playing to win, but infinite players are playing to stay in the game.

Sinek recently spoke at education summits at both Microsoft and at Apple. Microsoft’s presentation focused mostly on how to beat Apple, while all of Apple’s presentation centered on how they can help teachers teach, and how they can help students learn in order to create a lasting company that continues to grow throughout the years.

“A finite player is trying to beat everyone else. An infinite player is trying to advance themselves.”

Companies like AT&T and McDonald’s are more obsessed with advancing themselves and the bigger picture, rather than focusing on what their competitor is doing, and this reflects in their advertising. While Sprint and Burger King have been trying to prove their value against the bigger guy for years.

Infinite players frustrate their competition because they understand the game enough to sit at the top. Finite players can’t quite grasp it and are constantly trying to find ways to get in the lead.

Many leaders of marketing understand how the game is played and focus their efforts beyond solely creating advertising campaigns. They are looking for ways to create a culture from their content marketing. An infinite marketer’s goal is to make a lasting impression for their organization by thinking outside the box, placing continuous efforts on improvement, with the tenacity to keep going even after failing.

Playing the infinite game is hard, and it appears that many brands and figures are comfortable playing the finite game by comparing themselves to others and failing to focus on what they can provide the consumer.

Consumers notice this too and prefer to focus their efforts on brands that feel authentic. We live in an user-centric and customer driven world now. 43 percent of Millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news so it’s no surprise that they want substance and personalization with their content. This generation wants to feel like content is created with their interest in mind so it’s necessary for companies to create products and marketing campaigns tailored to the “bigger picture,” a picture that goes beyond simply increasing revenue.

The bigger picture is becoming the thought leader for their current audience and consumers to come. It’s actively listening to the consumer and developing products and campaigns based off of what they’ve said. It’s not worrying about being the best in the industry, it’s about working to be the best for their market.

Until public figures and brands can truly learn to play the infinite game, I really don’t think companies will succeed in resonating with young people. So, ditch comparative advertising and let your authenticity help you be the candidate, the phone company, the tech guru, the fast food chain that people want and need.

I want to know: are you sold by advertisements that compare a brand or person to their competitors? Or are you sold by authenticity and how a brand or person can better work for you? Tweet me to let me know!

as_teamAdele Stewart is a Marketing Account Manager & Designer at Sparq Designs, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh. Learn more about her, here. If you have questions about building a relationship, contact the  Sparq team today.

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