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MindShare moves signal strong focus on media planning

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MindShare USA, the unbundled media operation combining the media departments of WPP Group agencies J. Walter Thompson USA and Ogilvy & Mather, is coming together in time for the network upfront season.

MindShare Chairman-CEO Irwin Gotlieb formalized the unit's management structure last week, pulling together a team consisting of three co-presidents: Jean Pool, president-operations; Peter Chrisanthopoulos, president-national broadcast and programming; and Ray Simko, president-strategic planning. Larry Cole, former exec VP-U.S. media director at Ogilvy North America will serve as vice chairman.

MEDIA PLANNER NAMED

The appointments of Ms. Pool, previously JWT's exec VP-director of North American media services, and Mr. Chrisanthopoulos, Ogilvy's former president of broadcasting and programming, were expected. But the anointing of Mr. Simko, former senior partner-media head at Ogilvy, New York, was more surprising.

Mr. Simko comes from the planning side, while Mr. Chrisanthopoulos and Ms. Pool are buyers. Mr. Simko's place among the three is a clear signal that MindShare will be a planning agency as much as a buying group.

According to executives familiar with recent media unbundling trends, the movement is meeting resistance from creative agencies reluctant to fold planning functions into the consolidated media groups. For example, Ogilvy, which has a strong planning history and culture, had been expected to keep a tenacious hold on that department.

With the high-profile appointment of Mr. Simko, however, MindShare will have a strong planning function. "A big part of the MindShare equation is planning," said Mr. Simko. "The days of neatly separating planning from buying are really passing fast. You have to have a combination of the two working together."

FORGING PARTNERSHIPS

Mr. Simko, a 24-year Ogilvy media planning veteran, will help MindShare develop media strategies, and also will be responsible for forging collaborative partnerships between the new media giant and brand agency personnel.

Ms. Pool is considered an expert in spot TV and local broadcasting in general. Although she will handle local broadcast operations for MindShare, the bulk of her duties, according to Mr. Gotlieb, will be devoted to operations.

Mr. Chrisanthopoulos, who has managed Ogilvy's national broadcast group, will remain in charge of that department and will also be responsible for programming. Mr. Cole's tasks include building MindShare resources in North America and helping to manage the merger of JWT's and Ogilvy's media departments.

In the U.S., MindShare claims $7 billion in billings. Worldwide, the agency claims $17 billion. Leading clients include American Express Co., De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ford Motor Co., IBM Corp., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Kraft Foods, Merrill Lynch & Co., Nestle USA, Nike and Unilever.

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