It’s a long way from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Bangkok, but Tom Athey made the journey, starting out as a reporter at the Northumberland Gazette, working for a number of national publications within the U.K. before moving to Dubai and making the move to the marketing communications business, working with Emirates Airlines and other aviation industry clients, and the heading even further east to Thailand, where he founded Spark Communications in February 2000 and over the past eight years has grown it into one of the leading independents in the market, with a staff of 18 and a portfolio of blue-chip clients from a wide variety of industries.
Spark draws on a blend of Asian and Western market expertise—account director Pannawat Khlongnakrob joined the firm in 2001, having previously served as public relations manager at JMP, a company providing consultation services in the tourism industry—and places an emphasis on partnership with its clients; personalized service; strong working knowledge of its clients’ markets; and a broad perspective that derives from staff experience that spans not only PR and marketing but also journalism, sales and distribution, customer relations, special events, conferences and exhibitions.
The firm focuses on four key business segments—consumer, healthcare, information technology, and travel and tourism—with traditional public relations expertise supplemented by the more recent addition of services including digital marketing and event sponsorship services. Leading clients include multinationals operating in all four sectors, such as Emirates, Electrolux, Lenovo, Philips, Abbott Pharmaceuticals, and highlights of the past 12 months include the launch to the Thai business community of a new property development in Samui, Peregrina Bay, launched by former England and current Manchester City manager Sven Goran Eriksen and the sale by TNT Worldwide of its logistics division to a fund management company. Spark was involved in the process of communicating the sale and subsequent rebranding (to CEVA Logistics) among all key stakeholders including the company's 2,000 employees, customers and the media.
According to Winfried Kiesbueye of CEVA, “Our many years of services and cooperation [with Spark] have resulted in a friendly, close and professional partnership… We value PR as a tool to establish our brand in the marketplace and escalate our growth. From a relatively small base in 2000, we succeeded to grow seven times in a six-year span. In our opinion, our reputation in the marketplace was a pillar to that success.”
The firm focuses exclusively on the Thai market.