Partner or supplier: an examination of client/agency relationships in an IMC context

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


There is growing evidence from practitioners that the advertising industry is in a state of crisis. As campaigns become more integrated and multi-disciplinary, the relationship between advertising agencies and clients is being tested to its limits and is presently considered to be at an all-time low. Agencies feel less valued and are being excluded from C-suite discussion. Clients feel that agencies do not appreciate the changing landscape and how the customer experience is now key. Both sides recognise the need for more trust and collaboration. This study applies the agency theory and the social power theory to understand the pressures that the relationship is under. It looks for evidence that IMC is creating a movement away from a business alliance relationship by comparing qualitative data collected from both agencies and clients, using NVivo to identify themes. The findings identify four themes which illustrate this shift towards a supplier relationship: the client ownership of the customer journey, the lack of a strategic role of agencies, the challenges of agency collaboration and difficulties of agency specialisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-40
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Marketing Communications
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Oct 2017


  • Advertising
  • agencies
  • agency theory
  • clients
  • integrated marketing communications
  • social power theory


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