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'Truth in el Barrio' Speaks Anew

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Bromley Communications this month began airing Latino-targeted television commercials in English as part of the American Legacy Foundation's anti-smoking campaign.

The "Truth in el barrio" series builds upon Spanish-language spots which broke in July and August on MTV, Comedy Central and other channels.

Three ads feature Hispanic teens cruising their neighborhoods and examining the influence of Big Tobacco. Two of the teens are the real-life hosts of Influx, a skateboarding and music show on public access television in Los Angeles.

Using a handheld digital video camera, they count the number of tobacco ads in an affluent area versus the amount of signs in a minority neighborhood. In another spot they observe that cigarette messages are placed at children's-eye level throughout one store.

"They're just pointing things out, just opening the topic for conversation," said Bromley associate creative director Rafael Serrano. "The reason why we used these guys is that we didn't want to tell kids what not to do. We're not going to tell kids not to smoke. We just want them to see what's going on."

The approach, though "raw" in its use of deliberately underproduced footage and real-life actors, is also less militant than the controversial body-bag campaign produced by the foundation's general market agency.

San Antonio-based Bromley created the "Truth en el barrio" work in partnership with an alliance of eight agencies headed by Arnold Communications of Boston.

"All of the 'Truth' ads are designed to reach a wide and diverse group of young people, but when there are efforts by the tobacco companies to market their products more heavily in the barrio and other communities, we want to make people aware of that fact," said Pete Favat, creative director at Arnold, in a statement.

The effort includes network and spot radio ads as well as billboards. Wild postings will go up in 10 major markets during the back-to-school period.

The budget for the Hispanic campaign was not disclosed.

Bromley Communications is the largest Hispanic agency in the Southwest, with billings last year of $143 million. Its recent account wins include ESPNdeportes.com and the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau.