One of the highlights of Carlos Mendez's advertising career came last year, when he was working for the Mendoza Dillon agency in Irvine as chief creative officer. He played a key role in the agency's successful pitch for the Cingular account.

"Cingular was very impressed with how deep and broad we were able to go in understanding the Latino cultural cues and the mindset of Latinos across the board," he said.

Now he's at Castells & Asociados, an independent Hispanic advertising agency in Los Angeles, as the new executive vice president and chief creative officer. He says his secret to effective advertising is a two-punch strategy helping clients promote an overarching vision with their products as well as executing logistics.

"I hope to deliver a strong retail communications plan but also to help clients develop equity the emotional value, the intangibles on the brand," Mendez said.

He grew up in Puerto Rico and graduated from Syracuse University in New York. He was hired on the international team of McCann Erickson and was soon sent to Italy as an art director. During the next 16 years, Mendez lived in Italy, Canada, Norway, Ireland and Latin America, working for Coca Cola Co., General Motors Corp. and General Mills Inc.

Mendez found Castells' Latino-targeted advertising for clients who offer products such as digital cable and wireless cellular phones more up-to-date than it is other agencies. "The traditional buying power Latinos had was very marginal," Mendez said. "Now the Latino market doesn't just buy food and health care products. Latinos have access to technology, entertainment, travel."

Mendez lives in Orange County with his wife and young son and daughter. He is working on his first novel and likes to paint with acrylics, cook on the grill and travel the globe.

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