Target Splits With Lead Ad Agency Wieden & Kennedy

According to Advertising Age, Target's split with its lead ad agency Wieden & Kennedy stems from the October departure of Michael Francis, Target's former chief marketing officer.

Minneapolis-based retail giant Target Corporation has parted ways with its longtime advertising partner Wieden & Kennedy, according to an Advertising Age report.

Portland, Oregon-based Wieden worked with Target for six years and had been the retailer's lead ad agency since 2009. Ad Age described the split as “sudden and surprising considering the success the partnership had.”

According to Ad Age, neither Target nor Wieden disclosed any specifics as to why the two companies have parted ways.

“It's safe to say there's not a single factor we would point to,” Target spokeswoman Katie Boylan told Ad Age. “At this point in time, we're focused on trying to innovate and tell the Target story in the most creative way possible.”

However, industry executives suggested that the relationship between the two companies has been strained since Target Chief Marketing Officer Michael Francis left in October to join J.C. Penney Company, Inc., according to Ad Age.

Wieden was reportedly named lead agency at the direction of Francis, with whom the ad agency worked closely. While Target has yet to name Francis' replacement, its Vice President of Creative Liz Elert has been leading its marketing efforts, and she and Wieden are said to have “butted heads,” according to Ad Age.

In other Target news, a report on Web site AppleInsider indicates that California-based Apple, Inc. is planning to operate “mini-stores” in 25 Target stores across the nation. These Apple-branded areas inside Target stores will allow the Minneapolis retailer to sell Apple's full product line, including Mac computers and AirPort wireless routers, according to AppleInsider.

Target is Minnesota's second-largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $67.4 billion in its fiscal year that ended in January 2011. The company-which has an annual advertising budget of more than $1.5 billion-ranked 18th in Ad Age's 2011 list of the 100-largest advertising spenders in the country.