Staff Reporters
Aug 18, 2020

Women to Watch 2020: Kara Santiago, Spark It! Marketing

From penning features for a travel magazine to growing a digital PR and influencer marketing agency from scratch, Kara R Santiago has certainly fast-tracked her career in just nine years.

Women to Watch 2020: Kara Santiago, Spark It! Marketing
Exceptional female talent from the APAC marcomms industry 

Kara R. Santiago

Managing partner
Spark It! Marketing
The Philippines

From growing an agency from two employees to 20, doubling its client-base in nine months, helping to lead a coronavirus fund-raising campaign, and being a founding member of the Philippines’ first influencer council, Kara R Santiago is certainly an over-achieving 28-year-old.

The communications graduate started out in journalism before joining Manila-based agency Bridges PR, where she led the Unilever global account, among others. A three-year client-side stint for consumer goods company Clorox International Philippines saw Santiago play an instrumental role in helping a traditional company embrace the shift to digital marketing. This brand-side experience proved invaluable in securing Santiago the critical role of building an agency from scratch. She joined Spark It! Marketing Communications in 2015 as its first employee, and has been promoted three times over the past five years— testament to her work in growing the agency, which now services global clients such as P&G, Lazada, Watsons, and KFC, and has expanded into new business lines including influencer marketing and digital. Spark It! now counts 20 employees.

Specifically, Santiago has led and executed four award-winning campaigns over the past three years, including a campaign for Klook Philippines, awarded Best PR Launch in the PR Awards Asia 2018, Unilever’s Shop2Give Unicef Partnership, Closeup’s #FreeToLove campaign and a micro-influencer campaign for Watsons Philippines.

Shining endorsements from clients speak of Santiago’s “attention to detail” “trustworthiness” and “passion”. The marketing director of Pandora Philippines calls her PR approach “unique” and a “breath of fresh air”.

Most recently, Santiago was elevated to managing partner following the passing of the agency’s founder and CEO in 2019. A bittersweet promotion, but Santiago is noted for leading the agency forward at trying times and pushing it to greater heights. The agency says it has doubled its client base over the past year under Santiago’s leadership with the addition of more than 20 new clients across local and international FMCGs. Furthermore, the agency says it had already reached its annual revenue target by June this year—an especially impressive task when dealing with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking of the pandemic, Santiago this year teamed up with fellow industry leaders to launch #CreatorsUnitedPH, a fund-raising campaign that tapped influencers to gather donations for PPEs from across the country, helping over 40 hospitals across the region.

If that wasn’t enough, Santiago is also a founding member of the Creator and Influencer Council of the Philippines, the first organisation in the country dedicated to formally establishing the country’s influencer marketing ecosystem by linking up creators, brands, and agencies.

Exceptional female talent from the APAC marcomms industry 


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