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Lapiz, leo burnett usa's newly titled Hispanic unit, is looking to a booming Hispanic population, and marketers' desire to reach those consumers as a vehicle to help the agency grow.

Chicago-based Burnett relaunched its 10-year-old Hispanic group last month by announcing its new client: Sara Lee Corp.'s Ball Park Franks. Lapiz, which means pencil in Spanish, has $100 million in billings, according to the agency. It will operate as a separate unit and report to Linda Wolf, group president of Leo Burnett North America, and Michael Hall, president of corporate planning.


Lapiz President Dolores Kunda said spinning off the division will allow it to go after business that might cause conflicts with Burnett's general market clients. She suggested cleaning products, diaper, food and personal care marketers as well as children's clothing retailers might be high on the Lapiz wish list.

"If I am a cosmetics manufacturer, I would take a hard look at Hispanic consumers," she said.

Ms. Kunda said Lapiz wanted to add new 1999 business, both nationally and with Chicago-area banks and grocery stores.

"We'll continue to go after national advertisers because they are great on rosters, but we like to get involved locally. It keeps us close to the consumer," she said.

Lapiz clients already include Coca-Cola Co., Hallmark Cards, Kellogg Co. and Chicago-area McDonald Corp.'s franchises.

"There's a lot of awareness. [The population is] big and growing," she said. "If you are not targeting the Hispanic market in a lot of categories, you're going to miss a big chunk of consumers."

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the Hispanic population increased 35.2% to 30.3 million in 1998, compared with 1990. Since the 1990 census, California's Hispanic population has increased by 2.4 million and Texas' increased by 1.5 million. Other states that have seen a big gain in Hispanic populations since 1990 include Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and New York.

Ms. Kunda said agencies and advertisers are looking at Hispanics with a greater respect.

"Hispanic culture is being put in general marketing, and it's being done not in a brash or harsh way," she said. "It's like [advertisers are saying] 'Come and celebrate with us.' As a Hispanic living in the U.S., I say this is really cool.

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