McD's Happy choice

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McDonald's Corp. has assigned the $500 million Happy Meal business formerly handled by Simon Worldwide to Creata Promotions, Oak Brook, Ill., Advertising Age has learned. Creata, a unit of the Australian agency that has long handled its Happy Meal programs overseas, is run by Sandy Silver, who joined as president Oct. 1 from Simon. Creata will share the assignment with Havi's The Marketing Store.

Separately, McDonald's filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal District Court in Chicago against Simon, which was dismissed by the fast-feeder after charges that the agency's former director of security led a crime ring that bilked consumers out of McDonald's prize money. McDonald's is asking for damages above the $20 million purportedly stolen and the $15 million it spent running a post-scandal cash giveaway. Last month, Simon cut 94 employees, or 40% of its remaining headcount.

The fast-feeder, meanwhile, is said to be in talks with roster agencies to broker Simon assets. Neither McDonald's nor its agencies would comment.

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