St. Pete Ad Agency Announces New Owners

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New Era Begins for Prestigious 15-Year Agency as Paradise Advertising Welcomes New Leadership and New Opportunities

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"Cedar’s leadership made the agency what it is today, and Tony and I intend to not only continue that legacy, but to build upon it."

Florida’s most award-winning travel and tourism advertising agency has cleared out some room amid all the ADDY, Flagler, and Adrian awards it took home last year. Not for more award trophies, but for the new company owners.

Sales and marketing specialists Barbara Emener Karasek and Tony Karasek have purchased Paradise Advertising & Marketing, founded in 2002 by longtime Florida advertising executive Cedar Hames.

Eager to provide the Paradise team with new leadership that mirrored his passion for creating a positive, people-first work environment, Cedar personally selected Barbara and her husband Tony to take ownership of the agency upon his retirement at the end of last year. And with Barbara and Tony, Cedar knew that his employees were in good hands.

“I actually interned for Cedar when I first started in this business,” explained Barbara, Paradise’s new CEO. “He showed me what a great leader could be, and I’ve never forgotten it. To come full circle and step into his shoes in the incredible agency he created isn’t just an honor, it’s a privilege.”

Barbara and Tony are assuming ownership of one of Florida’s most successful advertising firms, which is headquartered in downtown St. Petersburg. The full-service agency specializes in the marketing of travel, lifestyle, and luxury brands, and counts among its clients such destinations as Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades; Amelia Island; Orlando North, Seminole County; The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort; Space Florida; The Dalí Museum; Navarre Beach, and Savannah, to name a few.

“Tony and I are delighted to take the helm of such a successful company and are excited for the opportunity to work with the talented staff here,” said Barbara. “Paradise’s amazing track record is known industry-wide and the quality of work they produce is second to none. Cedar’s leadership made the agency what it is today, and Tony and I intend to not only continue that legacy, but to build upon it.”

That means expanding Paradise’s scope into new industries, with initial targets including destinations outside of Florida, sports and sports tourism, entertainment, CPGs, and healthcare.

“We are energized that our agency will begin to actively seek growth opportunities,” said Tom Merrick the agency’s Chief Creative Officer. “The vast experience and incredible talent of our team will allow us to move seamlessly into other verticals.”

An accomplished executive with 20+ years of experience leading B2B and B2C marketing for businesses ranging from market-leading brands to high-growth startups, Barbara brings to Paradise a dynamic new vision for success. The Tampa native cut her teeth in advertising and public relations at Earl Palmer Browne, where she interned for Cedar. Since then, she has experienced a thriving career as a marketer, traveling the world while holding high-level marketing, licensing, consumer products, sponsorship and business development positions with Sea World Parks & Entertainment, the PGA TOUR, NASCAR, and the United States Olympic Committee. Barbara excels at brand strategy, multi-cultural consumer marketing, digital and e-commerce, sponsorships, licensing, and content development and distribution. She has led award-winning global marketing and licensing campaigns with brands such as American Express, Coca-Cola, FedEx, General Mills, Mattel, Microsoft, Sprint/Nextel, Walmart, and dozens more. Barbara attended Furman University, where she earned a BA in Sociology and was a four-year volleyball scholarship standout. She returned to Tampa to earn an MA in Mass Communications from USF, which honored her in 2008 with its Distinguished Alumni Award, and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Strategic Marketing Management course.

Tony Karasek, Paradise’s new President, is a giant in the sales industry — literally. At 6-foot-10, the only thing bigger than his stature is his personality. The Davenport, Iowa native played basketball at both Wake Forest and Florida State University, then began what would become an injury-riddled professional career. Tony spent seven years in the pro ranks, where he participated in five NBA training camps and traveled the world with professional teams in France, China, England, Greece, Israel, and the Dominican Republic. After hanging up his sneakers, Tony applied his competitive spirit and engaging personality to sales, logging more than 20 years leading national sales and business development efforts for companies in the tourism, hospitality, logistics, financial services, medical and retail industries. Tony consistently delivers results and is skilled in maximizing new business opportunities while building strong relationships with partners and clients.



Paradise Advertising is an award-winning collective of experienced marketers, thinkers, PR practitioners, and creatives who are committed to one thing and one thing only: Helping its clients succeed. Whatever the brand, whatever the challenge, the people of Paradise have a track record of delivering strategically driven solutions, breakthrough creativity, impactful media placements and more – leading to bottom-line results that have been proven to drive growth and success. To learn more, visit


Company Name: Paradise Advertising & Marketing, Inc.

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida (headquarters)

Date of Establishment: April 1, 2002

Key Management Personnel: Barbara Emener Karasek (CEO), Tony Karasek (President)

Number of Employees: 32

Clients include: Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, The Dalí Museum, Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, The James Museum, JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau, The Official Visitors Bureau for Indian River County Tourism Development, Orlando North/Seminole County Tourism, Santa Rosa County Tourism Development Office, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, Space Florida — We Are Go FL, The Vinoy® Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, and Visit Savannah.


Tara Tufo, VP Public Relations
727-821-5155 x126 or ttufo(at)paradiseadv(dot)com

Trinity Morgan, PRAE

727-821-5155 x123 or tmorgan(at)paradiseadv(dot)com

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