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El Al Hires Ad Store

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NEW YORK Israel's national airline, El Al, has charged The Ad Store with rebuilding its U.S. profile after violence and political turmoil in the Middle East dampened tourism to the country for about four years, the client said.

The airline was encouraged by a 15 percent rise in ticket sales in 2005 and has decided to expand its advertising efforts, said client representative Sheryl Stein.

"Last year was an excellent year for El Al and tourism to Israel, so now we're focusing on promoting ourselves to the general market," Stein said.

Recent ad efforts had focused exclusively on the ethnic market. But since Israeli airline magnet Israel Bararovich bought controlling interest in the company from the government, the airline has added amenities like refurbished business seating, wireless Internet and live television with an eye toward making El Al more of a global carrier, said Stein.

The airline also has expanded service from Los Angeles and added non-stop flights from Miami, which only El Al offers, Stein said.

The Ad Store's first work will support that initiative in the Miami Herald, and other general-market advertising will run in newspapers including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Sun, Stein said. The independent New York shop also will be charged with reaching out to Christian pilgrim markets, she added.

Creative will likely carry the airline's standing tagline, "El Al. It's not just an airline. It's Israel," Stein said. Campaign spending is undisclosed.

The Ad Store picked up the El Al account in December following a review that included two other New York-based agencies. The shop had held the Jet Blue account for four years, but lost the business to JWT in November.