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LaRussa's Animal Group Gets Ad Help From aka

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Who knew Tony LaRussa had such a soft side?

LaRussa, the hard-nosed manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and former skipper of the Oakland Athletics, plays a big role in a pro bono campaign from aka Euro RSCG promoting his animal rescue group.

The campaign, which includes a 30-second TV spot and print work, plugs "Stars to the Rescue," an upcoming fundraiser for LaRussa's Animal Rescue Foundation. ARF organizes programs that place abandoned animals in good homes, often with the elderly, victims of crime or abused children. The fundraiser will feature such stars as Michael Bolton.

The simple TV spot is entirely black-and-white animation, with a cat and dog striking up a conversation about animals' needs. Toward the end of the ad, the cat picks up a mouse and kisses it as a voiceover says, "We rescue animals." A print ad features the same cartoon critters.

The spot ends with the tagline: "People rescuing animals. Animals rescuing people."

The San Francisco agency completed the ads in two weeks, illustrating, doing the voiceovers, creating a logo for the foundation and improving its Web site.

"We're very excited to team up with such a passionate group of people," said Michael Kantrow, aka managing partner and CEO. "ARF has been doing amazing things over the past decade ... not only for animals in need, but just as importantly, for people in need."

LaRussa and his wife founded the group in 1991 to educate people about abandoned animals and help animals find good homes.

"Animals can be part of the answer to many of our human problems," LaRussa said. "And we welcome the support of such an innovative and experienced team to help draw the attention to the wonderful interaction between animals and the people who love them."