Jose Lopez-Varela Named Managing Director of Florida-Based Agency

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos is opening a U.S. Hispanic market agency in Florida.

The as-yet-unnamed shop will be run by the former management team of Hispanic agency CreatAbility, Coral Gables, Fla. Jose Lopez-Varela, CreatAbility's former managing partner, will be vice president and managing director of the new unit. He will be joined by Alejandro Barreras, the agency's former creative director, and Henry Gomez, the planning director, will hold the same titles at the new agency.

Boston-based Hill, Holliday is part of the Interpublic Group of Cos.

Prior relationship
Hill, Holliday had a previous relationship with CreatAbility, which handled Hispanic advertising for Hill, Holliday clients, such as Dunkin' Donuts.

All three men, and the rest of CreatAbility's reduced staff, were laid off at the end of January, apparently after founder and CEO Ritchie Lucas was unable to find new investors for the 13-year-old independent agency. The shop was down to eight staffers, including Mr. Lucas, who did not immediately return phone calls.

"We really enjoy working together," Mr. Lopez-Varela said of himself and Messrs. Barreras and Gomez. "We were looking for opportunities ourselves and together."

Mr. Lopez-Varela said his group will initially work out of an office in Ft. Lauderdale that Hill, Holliday uses for regional media buying but will start looking for office space soon.

Growing trend
Hill, Holliday's new Hispanic practice is part of a trend toward general market agencies looking for ways to enter the U.S. Hispanic market, whose growth is outpacing that of the general market even though total spending, at about $2 billion, is still tiny.

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