Do marketers get the advertising they need or the advertising they deserve? Agency views of how clients influence creativity

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This paper examines the influence of marketers on the creativity of their advertising agency. There are three main ways in which marketers affect the creativity of their agency: (1) setting direction, (2) resource allocation, and (3) evaluation. These ideas were empirically measured in 1,011 advertising campaigns via questionnaires given to agency personnel. Strategy has often been a focal point of advertising studies, but this research finds that some sources of strategy are better than others. Merely having strategy in client briefs has little effect on creativity, but the client's willingness to explore new strategic ideas with the agency does have a substantial impact. In general, better-resourced agencies do more creative work, and a key resource is access to top managers. However, sometimes, top-management involvement may lead to counterproductive effects on creativity because of the fear this induces within agencies. Sophisticated, high-ranking clients appear to send a "chilling" effect throughout the agency, thus dampening creative potential. Although this study is based on advertising agency responses rather than advertising client responses, it provides insight into the complicated notion of agency accountability for campaign creativity. In many cases, marketers seeking accountability for their campaign creativity need look no farther than themselves. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]