Loyalty in Agency-Client Relations: the Impact of the Organizational Context

Nicholas H Sanders and Paul Michell

This study seeks to establish, in a services setting, why a small minority of clients maintain loyal relationships over an extended time period with their service providers (advertising agencies) in the context of the 'disloyalty' portrayed by the great majority of such clients. On average, UK advertisers change advertising agencies once every four and a half years (Michell, 1983, 1990); over the 15-year period 1976-1991 only 3% of UK advertising accounts were maintained with the original agencies, typically high-profile major accounts since in aggregate they were responsible for around 10% of total UK billings. We were particularly interested in whether the policies of these exceptionally loyal advertisers contained attitudes and perspectives of value to switchers.