Client And Agency Mental Models In Evaluating Advertising

Timothy Devinney, Grahame Dowling and Michael Collins
University of New South Wales

It is commonly understood that both the process of arriving at a decision and its final outcome can be sources of conflict among the parties to a joint decision (Bazerman 1994). Thus it is important to understand how both these aspects of the advertising agencyclient relationship unfold, and whether they may lead to conflict between managers and agency executives.

This paper describes the results of an Australian study of one such potential source of conflict between advertising agencies and clients, namely whether client managers and agency executives make similar evaluations of advertisements. One context where this potential source of conflict can play out is when the agency asks its client to evaluate some new advertisements for placement in the media. Do the client managers tend to use a different mental model to evaluate the ads and, if so, is this likely to lead to conflict between agency and client?