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Ramirez Fills Executive CD Post at Castells

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LOS ANGELES Castells & Asociados has hired Rafael Ramirez as executive creative director, a new position, the agency said.

Ramirez, 32, will lead the Hispanic agency's 14-person creative department. He started on Monday and reports to Liz Castells-Heard, president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles agency.

Trained as a copywriter, Ramirez previously spent four years as vice president, creative director at Publicis Sanchez & Levitan in Los Angeles, where he worked on Nestle and T-Mobile. He also has worked at agencies in Mexico City, including Leo Burnett and McCann-Erickson, and his client experience includes Black & Decker, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Colgate, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Kellogg's and Motorola.

"This is the agency that's been growing probably the best in the Hispanic market," said Ramirez. "The pitching rate they have is outstanding and it talks about the direction of the agency. The opportunity for me is to join the team and establish a creative personality."

The addition of Ramirez follows a restructuring of the agency's creative department. Robert Sosa, who previously oversaw the department as creative director, departed in March. The agency recently promoted Patricia Annicchiarico to creative director, Nadia Voukitchevitch to senior producer, Arturo Monroy to senior copywriter and Karen Youngs to director of creative operations. The shop also added Javier San Miguel as a copywriter and Michelle Del Castillo as an art director.

"We experienced tremendous growth within the last four years, especially last year," said Castells-Heard, noting that the agency now has nearly $50 million in billings and 46 employees. The shop has won 19 of its last 22 new-business pitches.

Castells & Asociados interviewed more than 30 candidates before hiring Ramirez, said Castells-Heard. "He fits the agency absolutely perfectly," she said, adding that the shop is strategically oriented. "Rafael is known for doing edgy and award-winning creative that nails the strategy."

Another factor in Ramirez's hire was his experience with branding and retail clients, said Castells-Heard.

Castells' clients include McDonald's, Safeway/Vons/Dominick's, Southern California Toyota Dealers, Mervyn's, Dole Packaged Foods Co. and Comcast.