Simon Gets Bigger Share of MindShare, Named Strategic Planning Chief

Three months after MindShare's Ray Simko took early retirement as president, strategic planning, the WPP Group media agency tapped its worldwide planning director, Ernie Simon, to replace him.

Last February, Simko's name had surfaced in the trial of Shona Seifert and Thomas Early, the former Ogilvy & Mather--a sister WPP agency--executives who were subsequently found guilty of falsifying time sheets on the White House's anti-drug media campaign run by the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy. The two were specifically found guilty of padding bills and defrauding the government of roughly $3 million in late March.

Simko was eventually brought up on related charges, and pleaded guilty before the trial was over. He had previously worked with Early at O&M in 1999, when Simko was the senior partner in charge of media on the ONDCP account. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, a spokesman from the U.S. District Attorney's Office said.

All three are scheduled to be sentenced this month.

As for Simko's MindShare successor, Simon has been with the media shop since its founding in 1999, and previously was with sister agency J. Walter Thompson. He has held a variety of media strategy and planning roles at major agencies, including WPP's Young & Rubicam, Grey, and the defunct TN Media.

In his new position, Simon will become part of the Office of the President, the management group that runs the agency and also includes Marc Goldstein, CEO; Kathy Crawford, president; MindShare local broadcast, Shari Cohen and Jason Maltby; co-presidents of national broadcast; Tim Cecere, senior partner, director human resources; and Joe Scangamor, senior partner, CFO, MindShare Americas.

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