How Divergent Beliefs Cause Account Team Conflict

Chris Hackley
University of Birmingham


It is a truism that advertising professionals do not generally theorise their daytoday work. Yet it is also a truism that any practical action implies a theoretical standpoint. The standpoint may be theoretical only in the most rudimentary sense, but if it implies a general proposition about the world that has some predictive value, then it can count as theory. Researchers have begun to theorise the atheoretical world of advertising practice. Johar et al. (2001) found that copywriters seemed to draw analogies from mythic narratives to inspire their creative work. Such practices imply a culturallybased theory of communication and, in turn, a relativistic epistemology of the consumer. Many advertising agencies have attempted to make their 'creative philosophies' explicit as part of their corporate efforts to enhance and publicise their creative expertise (West & Ford 2001). Yet it is often hard to pin down agency practice in terms of such philosophies. Copywriters, in particular, often hold idiosyncratic views on their work. Kover (1995) conducted qualitative interviews with New Yorkbased creative advertising professionals and concluded that they employed various 'implicit theories' of communication in their creative work. These implicit theories were not articulated in the normal run of daily work. They were inferred by the researcher from creatives' ordinarylanguage explanations.