Four months after losing its top marketing executive, Target Corp. is restructuring its advertising and marketing operations.
The Minneapolis-based retailer said Tuesday that it ended its six-year relationship with lead agency Wieden+Kennedy, based in Portland, Ore. Instead, Target will rely more on its internal team to craft strategies that underpin its trademark campaigns.
Normally, a large retailer like Target relies on one or two lead agencies and then farms out work to smaller firms. Instead, Target said it will use a larger stable of boutique firms.
"Target is proud of what we accomplished with the Wieden+Kennedy team," Shawn Gensch, Target's vice president of marketing and head of partner management, said in a statement.
"Looking forward, we are focused on continuing to identify fresh and innovative ways to tell Target's brand story, and will leverage both our internal expertise and our strong roster of agency partners to help accomplish our marketing goals in 2012 and beyond," Gensch said.
Target also recently cut ties with Peterson Milla Hooks, a Minneapolis-based boutique agency that crafted its Missoni and Alexander McQueen campaigns. Wieden+Kennedy, known mostly for its work with Nike, was responsible for "Life Is a Moving Target" campaign. It also was behind the "Christmas Champ" character, in which an overenthusiastic holiday shopper, played by a Twin Cities actor, prepares for Black Friday in the spirit of Rocky.
Target's ad reshuffle coincides with the departure of former executive vice president and chief marketing officer Michael Francis, who left the retailer last October to become president of J.C. Penney. Ron Johnson, a former Target executive and current J.C. Penney CEO, also signed up Peterson Milla Hooks.
When asked if the decision to drop Wieden+Kennedy was related to Francis' exit, Target spokeswoman Amy Reilly said the move was not the result of any one particular thing but rather a culmination of factors. She declined to elaborate.
The company has yet to announce a replacement for Francis. As Target assumes more responsibility for its campaigns, its new CMO will likely command even more influence on that work.
Thomas Lee • 612-673-4113