Retail giant Target Corp. confirmed today it is consolidating its media buying and planning business with WPP’s GroupM.
Target reported gross advertising costs of $1.48 billion in 2015, down slightly from the $1.6 billion it reported spending in 2014. According to Kantar Media, measured media spending totaled a little more than $515 million last year, down from $663 million in 2014.
GroupM replaces Haworth Marketing & Media, which has handled the Target business for 20-plus years. The shift may be due to reports that Haworth is in talks with Walmart about handling its media account. In February, Walmart parted ways with its long-time media agency MediaVest.
There’s an existing relationship between Haworth and GroupM — two years ago GroupM bought a 49% stake in Haworth. At the time the companies said Haworth would continue to operate independently, but would as a result of GroupM’s investment be “backed by the industry leader in tools and data, thus linking the art of consumer connections with the most advanced marketplace analytics.”
Last year Kristi Argyilan, the former IPG Mediabrands executive who joined Target in 2014 as svp media and guest engagement, brought GroupM on board to assist Haworth with a number of media-related tasks although Haworth continued to handle the bulk of the work. Now, over the next three months, the business will transition fully to GroupM.
With Target’s input, GroupM is creating a new unit of talent and customized capabilities that will be dedicated to the Target business.
Commenting on the shift, Argyilan stated, “Since bringing GroupM on board in 2015, we’ve been impressed with their team and industry-leading media and measurement capabilities. We’re working with GroupM to build an incredible Target team and look forward to this next chapter together.”
She also gave a tip of the hat to Haworth: “They have been a key partner in bringing to life many of Target’s iconic moments.”
Added Gary Tobey, CEO of Haworth: “We’ve worked with Target for decades and are proud of the incredible things we accomplished together. 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.”
The new Target-focused GroupM team will primarily be led from the firm’s New York office, with additional support in San Francisco and Minneapolis, where Target is headquartered.
“Target is one of America’s great brands and we are thrilled to broaden GroupM’s partnership with them,” stated Rob Norman, Chairman, GroupM North America. “Target has an unwavering commitment to improving their guests’ experience and we will focus all of our talent, tools and insights to help them win.”