Image Overhaul for Ad Américas

In an effort to position itself as independent from the general-market shop that helped bankroll its start, Ad Américas has changed its name to Castells & Asociados Advertising.

“We want people to know that this is an agency that is run and managed by Hispanics,” said the shop’s president, Liz Castells-Heard, a native of Cuba who established the venture four years ago with the backing of Los Angeles agency DavisElen. “It’s not about who had the money to start the agency, it’s about the agency’s commitment to the Hispanic community.”

Castells-Heard, 46, said the ownership structure of the privately held shop remains the same, with DavisElen owners Mark Davis and Bob Elen retaining their stakes. Castells-Heard remains the single largest shareholder, although it is also a minority stake.

The “image overhaul” goes beyond the name. The 42-person shop, which claims billings of about $40 million, has reconfigured its management team and moved to another floor in the building in downtown L.A. where it has shared space with DavisElen.

Also, the agency has formalized an alliance with Las Vegas-based R&R Partners. Under the agreement, R&R will call on Castells for Hispanic elements of campaigns and client service. The relationship developed while the two shops worked on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority account. In addition, Castells recently completed work with R&R on a branding campaign for Nevada Power Co.

The first new client to be handled under the Castells & Asociados name is Charter Communications. The 9-year-old St. Louis-based multi system cable operator, which serves 6.7 million customers in 40 states, retained the shop to tout a package of Spanish-language networks and handle an ongoing customer-acquisition campaign aimed at Hispanics. Spending was not disclosed.

Castells will continue to team with DavisElen on work for McDonald’s franchises and Toyota dealers. It also works with Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., on Safeway and Dole business.

Castells-Heard, who said most of her staffers are either Spanish-speaking or of Hispanic decent, said the shop has always operated autono mously. Using her name along with the Spanish word for “associates,” she said, will emphasize its position. “You look at that name, then you know it’s Hispanic,” she said.