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Shops respond to exit of Elian

Some agencies joined in the work stoppages of last week's "Black Tuesday" in Miami, following the feds' snatching of Elian Gonzalez. The 38-member staff at IAC Group voted to close for the day, though "everyone was still deployed in their homes," says Ana Maria Fernandez Haar, chairman and president. Haar, who's Cuban-American, says she warned clients that her shop would close. "Although the clients we discussed this with were non-Hispanic, they were quite comfortable with our doing it. And they all had our home phone numbers." Sanchez & Levitan was even more hard line. "The idea was not to go home to work. . . . The idea was that no one would do anything that day, to create a slowdown," says Fausto H. Sanchez, EVP-creative director. Sanchez, also a Cuban-American, made the decision to close his office himself. "I didn't have to take a vote. There are a lot of Latin Americans in the office, and everyone basically supported it. We had to work very late Monday night to get everything done. We didn't put our clients through any hardship." Several other shops remained open, including at least two Latino agencies, Creatibility and Del Rivero Messianu, both in Coral Gables. "I don't think being open for business is any indication that you care any less or that you don't support the cause," says Ritchie Luca, president of Creatibility. "If you were to come here on Tuesday, you would think that you were on `Frontline' or `Meet the Press' because everybody in here was very vocal, across the board, about their views."

How to keep

endorsers in line

Real people are such a pain when it comes to representing products. Better to go virtual, as in Sega's ambitions for videogame character Ulala (AA, April 17) or new Motorola pitchcharacter Mya, via McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. Better still, create a persona and use several flesh & blood humans to bring it to life. Diesel has Polish country singer Joanna Zychowicz helping push its jeans. But according to Advertising Age's Creativity, Joanna is a creation of the marketer. Several models play Joanna in advertising and out and about New York. Still, Joanna is no angel. Advertising is built around scandalous coverage of Joanna in faux tabloids. Diesel advertising is created in-house and by Paradiset DDB, Stockholm. "I don't think most people know she's not real," says Diesel Ad Manager Stefano Caputo. "When you create a character, it exists."

New life for

Crosby name

Another way to employ problem-free celebs is to use dead ones. Starwood Development bought the rights to use Bing Crosby's name for a new high-end community in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., named "The Crosby Estate." Ad agency Roddan Paolucci Roddan, Palos Verdes Estates, helped cinch the deal. "We didn't start off looking for a celebrity name," says partner Mark Paolucci. "But our strategy from the start was to name the land after an individual connected to the property." Although the crooner never lived on that specific piece of property, he did buy one of Rancho Santa Fe's original adobe ranch houses in 1932. RPR also has a relationship with Nathaniel Crosby, a son of Bing, through other business activities. RPR brought Starwood and the Crosby family together to close the deal.

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