Target Reveals Wieden's Swan Song

Agency Worked on Spring Push for New Boutique Partnership Program

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Come May, the ad world will get a look at Wieden & Kennedy's swan song for Target .

The retailer, which exclusively discussed its split with Ad Age last week, said today that Wieden is putting the "finishing touches" on a creative campaign to support its newest initiative, The Shops at Target . The concept builds on Target 's design partnerships, which date back to 1999 with the introduction of products from Michael Graves.

Merchandise from Polka Dog Bakery of Boston will be among new limited-edition collections available at Target .

"Design plays a critical role in differentiating Target from other retailers," said Stacia Andersen, senior VP of Target 's home division, during a press preview in Manhattan. "We promise our guests they can expect more and pay less. That's what makes Target so special. Our guests never know what they might find."

"For more than a decade, Target 's design partnerships have set us apart," Ms. Andersen added. But, "where Target has gone, others have followed."

Now Target plans to take the concept of design partnerships one step further by partnering with independent boutiques that have "charmed us, dazzled us and given us a glimpse of the future," said Brian Robinson, director-fashion and design partnerships at Target .

Cos Bar of Aspen, Colo., will also feature its collection at Target .

Beginning May 6 and lasting six weeks, the first group of five shop-in-shops will launch at all 1,767 Target stores, as well as online. Target worked with the owners of each shop to co-create limited-edition collections, which will be displayed in dedicated areas within the stores. In all, nearly 400 products are part of the program, with products ranging in price from $1 to $160. The shops include Cos Bar of Aspen, Colo., The Webster of Miami, Polka Dog Bakery of Boston, The Candy Store of San Francisco, and Privet House of Warren, Conn. Additional shops are expected to be added to the program for fall 2012 and beyond.

"We believe this once again puts us at the forefront of what's next and new in retail," said Mr. Robinson. "It's another way to make the seemingly inaccessible accessible and give our guests an amazing retail experience."

Ms. Andersen said that Target has teams working "around the clock" to make sure it is prepared to meet demand -- and avoid a Missoni-type meltdown. The limited-edition collection launched in September, just weeks after Target took control of its site from Amazon . Target was unable to handle the huge demand, and the fledgling site crashed repeatedly (though the problems with the site went beyond the rush on Missoni).

Merchandise from the Privet House of Warren, Conn.

The campaign for The Shops at Target will be the retailer's main marketing push for the spring selling season, said Dustee Jenkins, Target 's vp-communications. It will be on par with ad campaigns produced for other designer partnerships, such as Liberty of London and Missoni, and will include TV, print and digital executions. A series of documentaries, showing consumers behind-the-scenes aspects of the program, is also planned.

TV ads will tell consumers how Target discovered the boutique shops, as well as what they can expect, while online advertising will be more product focused. "It's an utter celebration of these shops," Mr. Robinson said. He added that Target worked with a "multitude" of agencies on The Shops at Target , which has been in development for more than a year. Wieden, however, is bringing all the pieces together, he said.

"This is one of the things we're incredibly proud of as part of our partnership," said Ms. Jenkins of Wieden's work on the program.

Separately, Ms. Jenkins acknowledged rumors of plans for Apple shop-in-shops at Target locations. She said that Target is in discussions with Apple about a test in 25 stores in which there will be "unique displays." She declined to comment further.

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