Top Target marketing official resigns

  • Article by: THOMAS LEE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 18, 2013 - 8:58 PM

Shawn Gensch’s departure comes at a tumultuous time for Target as it pushes more into groceries.

A top marketing executive at Target Corp. is leaving the retailer, the Star Tribune has learned.

Shawn Gensch, senior vice president of marketing, recently resigned to “pursue other opportunities,” the Minneapolis-based company said in a brief statement without elaborating. His last day is Friday.

“Shawn had a successful 10-year career with Target, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” the statement said.

Gensch’s departure arguably represents the first major shake-up in Target’s vaunted marketing team since Executive Vice President Jeff Jones joined the company in 2012 as chief marketing officer. It also comes during a tumultuous time for the retailer.

Target is struggling to grow sales even as it pushes into new markets like Canada and fresh groceries. The company, known mostly for its “cheap chic” fashion and home decor collections, will launch a major marketing campaign next year to convince more shoppers to visit Target for everyday food and household products.

Gensch, a longtime finance executive and former president of Target Bank, switched to marketing in 2008 and became senior vice president two years later. He has helped oversee projects like last year’s “Falling for You” short movie starring Kristen Bell, Target’s Doll House exhibit in Grand Central Station to promote its new Threshold home brand, and outreach to the Hispanic community, a key customer segment for the retailer.

At one point it was believed that Gensch was the top internal candidate to replace legendary marketing chief Michael Francis. Jones, an outsider who previously served as president of the McKinney advertising agency in Durham, N.C., ultimately got the job.

Under Jones’ tenure, Target has tried to move beyond its traditional store-based marketing campaigns into more innovative digital projects that rely heavily on social media. So far, Jones’ key outside hire has been Rick Gomez, a former executive at MillerCoors with strong experience in reaching out to Hispanic consumers.

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