Asbury Communications, a local PR agency that specializes in hyping graphic art studios and postproduction firms, has launched a talent management division.

Asbury Talent already has a handful of clients, including reality TV star Amber Smith of "Celebrity Rehab" fame; Melissa Biggs, a former "Baywatch" cast member; and Annmarie Lynn Gracey, an automotive model and horror movie actress.

Dan Harary, chief executive of Asbury Communication, said the decision to manage talent came to him in December when two-thirds of his clients told him PR had become a luxury they could no longer afford and dropped him.

"So now I'm a hybrid manager-publicist, a job title that I've never heard of before," said Harary, who runs Asbury as a one-man shop.

Because he's not a state-licensed agent, Harary can't arrange for client gigs in TV shows or movies. However, as a publicist with 30 years in Hollywood, he has experience with book deals, product endorsements, personal appearances, and advertising or promotional campaigns.

"Our work over the past years has often been in tandem with those service areas anyway," he said. "We are now officially building a talent roster to further extend our client base."

Asbury Communications continues to provide PR services to the one-third of its clients who didn't leave. As for the other two-thirds, Harary said several have since returned and by May he expects to recover fully.

Advertise.com Relaunches

Internext Media Corp. in San Francisco has acquired Advertise.com in Sherman Oaks and merged it with ABCSearch, a site it previously owned.

The Advertise.com Web site aims to provide marketers with a one-stop answer for buying Internet advertising space. The site allows marketers to buy ads on sites for pay-per-click, contextual or display campaigns.

"We launched Advertise.com to provide Internet advertisers and publishers a new value proposition effective, affordable and easy-to-use advertising campaigns all under one roof," Daniel Yomtobian, founder and chief executive of Advertise.com, said in a statement.

Belding Awards

At the biggest advertising awards show on the West Coast, RPA Inc. from Santa Monica took home the top prize for the Honda Civic "Musical Road" campaign.

The winning project involved cutting "rumble strips" into a stretch of highway in Lancaster that produced sounds under car wheels. So when a motorist drove over the strips at 55 miles per hour, the tires played the "William Tell Overture." Video of a Civic on the road became a YouTube hit and attracted worldwide attention for Honda.

RPA won three other Belding Awards.

TBWA/Worldwide in Playa del Rey took home the most trophies at 10. Nine were for Apple Inc. campaigns. Deutsch LA won seven awards, followed by David & Goliath, Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles and Team One, all with three Beldings.

Belding Awards are presented by ThinkLA, an advertising trade group for the Southern California region.



Agency Marries Princess

El Segundo ad agency Ignited has been named the agency of record for Princess Cruises.

The travel shipping company, headquartered in Santa Clarita, wanted to find an agency that could transition Princess to a digital-focused marketing strategy. Consulting firm Select Resources International in Los Angeles conducted the ad agency review, and Ignited won.

Ignited will handle media and creative tasks for both digital and traditional media campaigns.

"Our audience has shifted much of its research and conversation about travel to the digital space, and it's critical that we find new ways to engage them meaningfully in this environment," David de Merlier, vice president of marketing for Princess, said in a statement. "Ignited demonstrated a solid understanding of how Princess can make this happen."

For Ignited, Princess offers geographic proximity and doesn't conflict with the agency's current client roster, which includes L.A. Weekly, Sony Electronics Latin America, NBC/Universal and the U.S. Army.

Agencies & Accounts

Downtown L.A. marketing firm Sensis, which specializes in online accounts, will redesign the 700-page Web site for the Orange County Transportation Authority. Ross Group in Los Angeles has signed Christopher Guy, luxury furniture designer, as a client. The PR agency will promote the launch of a Christopher Guy Design Lounge in Beverly Hills, scheduled to open in July. Ad shop Wongdoody in Culver City has been named as one of the 40 Most Democratic Workplaces in the world. The award, presented by Texas-based consulting firm WorldBlu, cites 10 democratic principles as criteria, including transparency, dialogue and decision-making. Torrance-based Toyota USA's Lexus brand awarded its $10,000 "Keys to Innovation" grand prize to Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. Singer Alicia Keys, a spokeswoman for Lexus, presented the award. The contest was organized by African-American ad agency Walton Isaacson in Beverly Hills. Jefferson won with a plan to create a central green space on campus.

Staff reporter Joel Russell can be reached at jrussell@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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