1 Wackman

Topics: Advertising, Interpersonal relationship, Advertising agency Pages: 36 (5320 words) Published: April 26, 2015
DANIEL B. WACKMAN
CHARLES T. SALMON
AND
CARYN C. SALMON

DEVELOPING
AN ADVERTISING
AGENCY-CLIENT
RELATIONSHIP

T

ermination of the relationship between an agency
and a client is an everpresent possibility. In the last 10
years, there has been some indication that the trend toward
more rapid turnover of agencies
by client;s has increased. In a 1979
article in Dun's Review, it was reported that "In recent years, the number of agencies dropped by
corporate clients has risen considerably— the volume of such accounts exceeded $800 million
last year (1978) according to Advertising Age."

1. DANIEL B. WACKMAN is a professor in the
School of Journalism and Mass Communication at
the University of Minnesota. His research and
teaching focus on issues involved in the management of advertising agencies and other media organizations, and he has recently coauthored a book, The Management of Media Organizations, to
be published in 1987 by Longman. 2. CHARLES T.
SALMON is head of the public relations sequence
in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His doctorate is from the University of Minnesota.
3. CARYN C. SALMON is a marketing communication specialist at Madison General Hosptial in Madison, Wisconsin. Prior to that, she was an account executive at two advertising-public relations agencies, Pringle Dixon Pringle, Inc., Atlanta, and

Colle & McVoy, Inc., Minneapolis.

The American Association of
Advertising Agencies (AAAA),
under the leadership of its
chairman, Lou Hagopian (1985),
has expressed concern over the
instability of agency-client relationships. The AAAA is developing an advertising campaign directed at the business community to make them aware of this problem. Others are developing
training programs for agency and
client personnel and a system for
both monitoring and strengthening agency-client relationships (Wackman and Boylan, 1985).
The obvious reason for concern, of course, is the considerable cost such terminations entail for both the agency and the client
company involved. From the
agency's point of view, terminations would not be so costly— and sometimes even devastating
for the agency—if they could be
anticipated and planned for. Unfortunately in many instances, agencies are blind to the
problems that are developing in

the relationship and, therefore,
are caught by surprise when the
break occurs.
In a study of 84 matched pairs
of clients and the agencies which
these clients terminated, Doyle,
Corstjens, and Michell (1980) reported the following results: Of t;he top five reasons given for termination by clients, three were clearly related to dissatisfaction
with work performed by the
agency in creating ads and managing the accounts. Of the top five reasons reported by
agencies, none indicated awareness by the agency of client dissatisfaction with their work. Instead, agencies said terminations occurred largely due to reasons
that were outside their control
such as changes in management
or organization of the company
and changes in marketing
strategy.
Many have suggested that regular reviews of the agency by
clients would go a long way toward helping agencies to overcome this blind spot. Most of the time these reviews are initiated
by companies, but in some instances agencies are initiating
them on their own. At this point,
however, it is not clear whether
agency reviews and evaluations
are actually improving relationships between clients and the agencies which serve them.
Another tactic that is taken to
deal with the problem of agency
terminations has been to emphasize improving the initial selection of an agency. Much writing has been done on how to choose

Journal of ADVERTISING RESEARCH —DECEMBER 1986/JANUARY 1987

21

A G E N C Y - C L I E N T

the right agency (e.g., Weilbacher, 1983; Newsome, 1980;
Morgan, 1974). This emphasis
seems to grow out of a perspective that suggests that if...

References: Advertising '^ Age, April 4, 1983.
Business Books, 1974.
"Advertising in France: The Adverfiser-Adverfising Agency Relationship." European Journal of
Marketing 10 (1976): 28-34.
Newsome, J. E. "A Basis for
Partnership: Choosing an Advertising Agency." Advertising Magazine 66 (1980)^ 26-28.
Mitchell. "Signals of Vulnerabilify in Agency-Client Relations." Journal of Marketing 4, 4
(1980): 18-23.
Relationships as Seen by Influenfials on Both Sides." journal of
Advertising 11 (1982): 37-44.
Agency Views." Journal of Advertising 10 (1981): 21-30.
Levitt, T. The Marketing Imagination. New York: The Free Press,
1983.
Agency Changes." Advertising-.^
Age, Julv 2, 1979.
Harvard Business Review 45 (1967):
66-74.
Boylan. Building Agency-Client Relationships. Minneapolis, MN: Interpersonal Communication Programs, 1985.
Advertisers, Inc., 1981.
Zelter, H. "Client-Agency Conflicts." Advertising Age, March 5,
1984.
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