Target Corp. has decided to consolidate its media buying and planning business under advertising behemoth GroupM and as a result end its decades-old partnership with Minneapolis-based agency Haworth Marketing and Media.
But Haworth could have an answer for the loss with a possible future with Target competitor Wal-Mart.
According to a Tuesday announcement, New York City-based GroupM will assume full responsibility for Target's media business.
Target began working with GroupM last year. With more than $106 billion in billings in 2014, GroupM is the world's largest media investment group and is responsible for one-in-three ads globally. Target will immediately begin transitioning its remaining business from Haworth.
Target spent $686.3 million on measured media in 2014, according to Ad Age's Datacenter.
Haworth is more than 45 years old, and Target was one of its earliest clients. The agency has been a driving force in strategizing some of Target's most memorable ad placements, such as last year's 4-minute commercial during the Grammys that featured a performance from rock band Imagine Dragons. It was Target's first live commercial.
"We've worked with Target for decades and are proud of the incredible things we accomplished together," Haworth CEO Gary Tobey said in a statement. "I felt it was time to take Haworth in a different direction. As we seek to evolve our agency and explore new opportunities, we wish the Target and GroupM teams the best as they move forward."
There will be a three-month transition period between the two agencies, with GroupM immediately picking up all new work, according to Target. The team will mostly be led from GroupM's New York office and will be supported by staff in San Francisco and Minneapolis.
"We want to first and foremost thank Gary and the Haworth team for a long and successful relationship. They have been a key partner in bringing to life many of Target's iconic moments," said Kristi Argyilan, Target's senior vice president of media and guest engagement, in a statement. "Since bringing GroupM on board in 2015, we've been impressed with their team and industry-leading media and measurement capabilities."
In 2014, it was announced that GroupM would take a 49 percent stake in Haworth. At the time, Haworth said the deal would allow its clients to "benefit from full access to GroupM's resources in digital, analytics, trading and proprietary technology and tool development."
"Target is one of America's great brands and we are thrilled to broaden GroupM's partnership with them," Rob Norman, chairman of GroupM North America, said in a statement.
Calls to Target and Haworth for additional comment were not returned.
There have been rumblings that Haworth is in discussions to take over Wal-Mart's media account.
A Wal-Mart spokesman confirmed Tuesday in an e-mail: "We have had conversations with Haworth Marketing and Media. They are a great agency with unique capabilities that could be an interesting partner in the future."
The retail giant confirmed in February that it was ending its relationship with agency MediaVest, which runs its North American media business, according to Ad Age. The company will continue to work with MediaVest through the end of Wal-Mart's fiscal year in January 2017, but offered no other details on its future plans.
Wal-Mart, including its Sam's Club brand, spent more than $900 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2014, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.