A Longitudinal Analysis of the Ad Agency-Client Relationship: Predictions of an Agency Switch

Lucy L Henke

According to the results of a recent study, a major ad agency in the United States today can expect to lose 67% of its current accounts within the next five-year period (ADWEEK, 1992). As several recent events demonstrate, the effects of even a single account loss can be devastating (ADWEEK, 1994).

Many account losses are no doubt attributable either to account conflicts caused by agency mergers and acquisitions, or to new policies and objectives which result from changes on the client side. A large proportion of switches, however, are the result of client dissatisfaction with agency performance.

Several researchers have attempted to define the agency-client relationship, to compare client perceptions to agency perceptions, and to identify factors that lead to agency selection or to a good agency-client relationship (Cagley, 1986; Holtz, Ryans, and Shanklin, 1982; Ryan and Colley, 1967; Wackman, Salmon, and Salmon, 1986).