Mendelsohn Zien advertising, the agency best known for its risque Carl's Jr. commercials, has been purchased by Hakuhodo Inc., the eighth largest advertising agency network in the world.

Until now, the Westwood-based Mendelsohn Zien has focused mostly on two big clients, fast-food chain Carl's Jr. and Farmer John meats. But with the new ownership, it suddenly becomes the U.S. flagship agency for one of Japan's biggest marketing conglomerates, giving the local agency potential access to Hakuhodo clients such as Panasonic, Nissin Food and Matsushita Electric Industrial.

Chief Executive Richard Zien will continue to lead the agency. Founder and Executive Creative Director Jordin Mendelsohn will leave the shop.

Hakuhodo, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, bought a 49.9 percent share of Mendelsohn Zien in 2003. Since then, the companies have worked together on projects. Zien described the merger as "an excellent marriage" and expects that the new arrangement will give his agency access to Hakuhodo's big international customers.

"They have set aggressive growth plans for the agency," Zien said. "Now that my partner has left, it frees up the budget to hire more creative talent and we're looking to do it. That's probably the biggest change here."

Zien doesn't foresee any change in the agency's culture because Hakuhodo has a policy of putting local culture first. Hakuhodo has more than 60 offices in 19 countries.

"Hakuhodo's core principle of recognizing consumers as individuals with aspirations and dreams meshes perfectly with Mendelsohn Zien's philosophy of focusing on why a product is bought, not why it's sold," he said.

Loot the Vault

Roddan Paolucci Roddan, a Palos Verdes Estates agency that handles campaigns for real estate companies, followed the example of its clients and reassessed the value of its holdings.

And then decided that the best use of the archival material that wasn't used in previous campaigns would be to give it away.

Roddan has decided to donate what it calls its "creative assets" to any homebuilder who wants them.

Creative Director Christopher Salling explained that during the past 20 years, he and his ad staff have come up with plenty of ideas some bad, some better and some great. And lots of the great ideas never got executed. So he's putting all the unused stuff in an online "vault" and allowing marketing teams at homebuilders and developers to do with it what they will.

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