Phelps Group, an advertising and PR firm in Santa Monica, has spun off a new company, Phelps Total Market LLC, to reach ethnic consumers.

The new agency has seven employees, including several former executives from Anita Santiago Advertising, a Hispanic ad shop that Phelps acquired in February 2010. Phelps Total Market will initially focus on the Hispanic and Japanese-American markets, but will add capabilities over time to cover all minority markets.

As a separate company, Phelps Total Market is a women/minority business enterprise, meaning that clients can get credit under government contracting programs when billing the agency. Also, Creative Director Francisco Letelier believes it’s important to have an independent multicultural agency instead of a division.

“In the new America, where it’s perfectly natural to wrap chicken teriyaki in a corn tortilla, we must change the way we’re appealing to minorities,” Letelier said. “The reality is that nowadays America is made of different sub-Americas. Within this context, when a client wants to promote its brand of soap, for example, we’ll look into every potential customer in their key markets and put together messaging and media to reach those buyers in order of their buying power.”

The new agency’s first clients are EZ Lube and Nielsen Co.

JibJab and Justin

JibJab, the company that produced the famous Bush-Kerry boxing animation in 2004, has a new knockout with its online video to promote the Justin Bieber movie “Never Say Never” from Paramount Pictures, which paid for the project.

The video allows fans to insert their own photo that appears alongside Bieber in a song-and-dance routine. The Bieber project uses the same technology JibJab employs for its customized e-greeting cards. Fans can share the personalized video with friends on Facebook or through e-mail.

In its first week on the Internet, the video was customized by 400,000 people, generating 2.5 million views.

“Never Say Never” follows Bieber on his journey from street performer in Stratford, Ontario, to teen sensation at Madison Square Garden. As of March 6, the film had grossed $69 million.

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

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