A.J. Wright Looks at 7 Shops

BOSTON TJX Cos.’ A.J. Wright said it has named semifinalists in the review of its creative assignment.

Pitching are: Boathouse in Waltham, Mass.; Connelly Partners here; Downtown Partners in Chicago; Jay Advertising in Rochester, N.Y.; Marc USA in Pittsburgh; and Lowe and OneSeven, both in New York.

Pile and Co., the consultancy in Boston, is overseeing the process for the client in Framingham, Mass. Finalists will be identified early next month.

Six-year incumbent The Link Agency, an independent shop in Providence, R.I., is not defending [Adweek Online, April 7].

The discount clothing chain has done relatively little advertising of late, but is seeking a creative infusion to help its rapid expansion into new markets.

A.J. Wright spent about $100,000 in measured media in each of the last two years, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Sources said ad spending would rise at least into the low-seven-figure range this year.

TJX has numerous shops on its roster, but generally prefers to work with a different partner on each brand. Marshalls’ creative assignment moved from Interpublic Group’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos here to Publicis Groupe’s The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York last year following a review. T.J. Maxx creative is handled by Wenham, Mass.-based IPG shop Mullen.

Among the contenders, Jay Advertising, Lowe and OneSeven are owned by IPG, while Downtown Parners is an Omnicom Group shop and Marc has its own eponymous holding company; the other two are independents.

Hill, Holliday handles A.J. Wright media chores, as it does for TJX’s Bob’s Stores, Homegoods, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. Those chores are not part of the current review.

A.J. Wright launched in 1998, offering apparel, footwear and home fashions at 20-70 percent below prices of other discount chains. There are currently 155 locations, up from about 130 last year. TJX said it believes the U.S. can support more than 1,000 A.J. Wright stores nationwide. A.J. Wright’s net sales rose 22 percent to $651 million last year, compared to $531 million the previous year.