T.J. Maxx Seeks New Agency

T.J. Maxx, after nearly 25 years with Ingalls and its successor agency, Holland Mark Advertising, has placed the lion’s share of its business in review. Holland Mark’s portion consists mainly of broadcast creative chores. Most media duties had been subcontracted to The Media Edge, New York.

The budget for the portion of the T.J. Maxx business in play is $20 million, said Karen Coppola, vp of marketing for the 625-store off-price retail chain, a unit of TJX Cos. in Framingham, Mass. Ad spending last year for T.J. Maxx was $31 million, per Competitive Media Reporting. The client has handled significant print work in-house.

In a related development, TJX’s A.J. Wright chain split with Holland Mark and has assigned its account to The Link Agency, Providence, R.I. TJX’s HomeGoods division is also breaking with Holland Mark and is seeking a new shop.

Pile and Co., the Boston consulting firm, was retained to oversee the T.J. Maxx review process, which is expected to finish in December.

The client-agency relationship dates back to the chain’s launch of its first two Massachusetts locations in the late-1970s. T.J. Maxx now operates in 47 states. Ultimately, changes in management and philosophy at both Boston-based Holland Mark and the client apparently caused the relationship to deteriorate. Mutual dissatisfaction has grown between the two since Holland Mark acquired crosstown agency Ingalls late last year, sources said.

T.J. Maxx officials believed their account was no longer viewed as one of the agency’s most important pieces of business; agency execs were anxious to move away from labor-intensive retail work in order to focus on potentially better creative opportunities, such as dot-coms, sources said.

Ties forged between TJX chairman Ben Cammarata, who recently handed over the CEO post to president Ted English, and Ingalls chairman Bink Garrison—who has a reduced role in the Holland Mark hierarchy—unraveled, sources said.

Coppola said only, “It was time to pursue a new opportunity.” Bill Davis, Holland Mark’s chief executive, declined to address the relationship issue.

“We’re taking a look” at whether layoffs will be necessary, Davis said.

Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston handles TJX’s 550-store Marshalls chain. An agency representative said the shop has not decided if it will pursue T.J. Maxx.