Sensis, a multicultural advertising agency in downtown Los Angeles, has won a contract to try and boost commuter ridership on Metrolink.

Sensis President Jose Villa said the regional rail line selected his agency because of its media planning and buying capabilities, and also for its understanding of the cross-cultural population of Southern California.

“It’s a challenge to get people in Los Angeles out of their cars,” Villa said. “For the early stages of the campaign, we want to talk to people in their cars and that means out-of-home and radio advertising.”

Once people start thinking about taking a train to work, Villa expects they will do research online and talk to friends. Sensis plans to guide them through this conversion process by reworking Metrolink’s site and participating in social media sites where online word of mouth occurs.

Also, Metrolink sees growing the Hispanic, African-American and Asian ridership as crucial. Sensis plans to begin by concentrating on potential Hispanic riders along the San Bernardino-downtown L.A. route.

“Hispanics are a key audience and Metrolink has never really engaged them beyond translating materials into Spanish,” Villa said.

The agency’s first campaign will start later this month along the Santa Ana (5) Freeway. Construction on the freeway will cause delays and the California Department of Transportation has given Metrolink a grant to help ease congestion.

“What better time to get them to consider Metrolink than while they’re sitting frustrated in traffic?” Villa said.

Account director Dan Tuft will be the lead Sensis executive on the account.

High-Flying Digs

Advertising agency 72andSunny plans to move to the former headquarters of Hughes Aircraft Co.

The 12-year lease will give the agency 58,000 square feet in two buildings, including the one where Howard Hughes had his office.

The new location “has an energetic and inspiring feel, a rich history of innovation and provides a great opportunity to be around other progressive creative companies in the Los Angeles community,” John Boiler, 72andSunny’s chief executive, said in a statement.

The agency is still in its smaller office in Culver City as the new office undergoes renovations. 72andSunny plans to move in March.

72andSunny clients include Activision/

Blizzard, Anheuser-Busch, Carl’s Jr., K-Swiss and Samsung.

Return to RPA

Santa Monica ad agency RPA has hired Jim Helberg as senior vice president of strategy, integration and analytics.

His responsibilities include developing campaigns with other agencies and media companies. He will also buy diagnostic research on campaigns and develop standards for accountability to clients in media buying. In addition, he will work with RPA clients including American Honda, Farmers Insurance Group and Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

“This significant hire is a reflection of the continued growth at RPA, thanks to additional assignments from existing clients and new business,” Bill Hagelstein, chief executive at RPA, said in a statement.

Helberg came to RPA from Irvine’s Autobytel, where he was executive vice president. Early in his career, Helberg worked for RPA on the Honda account shortly after the agency became independent in 1986.

Agencies & Accounts

GeneMe, a provider of personalized health and beauty products based on each individual’s DNA, has hired Levine Communications Office in Beverly Hills as its public relations firm. LCO will handle corporate communications, media outreach and product launches. … Just as the Summer Olympics fill TV screens, Amy Levy PR in Sherman Oaks has signed two clients with Olympic ties. Venice Bakery is a sponsor of Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer, and the Los Angeles School of Gymnastics will host the LA Lights Tournament of Champions featuring Olympic gymnasts from all over the world. Amy Levy will handle media relations for both clients. … Inter/Media Cos. in Encino has hired Gavin Ballas as vice president of marketing and sales. He will take responsibility for increasing revenue. Previously, he was vice president of business development at Integrated Media Solutions in Beverly Hills. … Century City’s Pollack PR Marketing Group is the new agency for Pasadena-based LeisureLink, a provider of revenue management and distribution services for hotels and resorts. PPMG will focus on trade, technology, business and consumer media outreach. … Tourific Escapes, a two-year-old company that combines Hollywood tourist drive-arounds with restaurant tours, is a new client of PR agency Blaine Group in Beverly Hills. The agency will promote Tourific as a new type of Hollywood attraction. … Mile 9, a marketing agency in Calabasas, has signed Omni Specialty Packaging as a client. The agreement covers strategy development as well as trade, retail and consumer marketing for the company’s Pure Guard brand of motor oil and lubricants. Mile 9 also will develop print and digital sales materials for Pure Guard.

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

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