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Advertising planning, ad‐agency use of advertising models, and the academic practitioner divide

Helen Gabriel (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Rita Kottasz (London Metropolitan University, UK)
Roger Bennett (London Metropolitan University, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 1 August 2006




To examine the extent to which “account planners” in advertising agencies use formal academic models of “how advertising works” and to identify the factors that discourage non‐users from applying academic advertising theory.


Account executives in 152 full‐service and 72 creative advertising agencies in the UK completed a questionnaire concerning the use of formal models, preferences for developing those in‐house versus adopting pre‐existing “textbook” prescriptions, and factors that might discouraged application of academic advertising theory in any form. The data collected were interpreted by means of factor analysis, structural equation modelling and correspondence analysis, and conclusions drawn with respect to theory and practice.


There was considerable ignorance of formal models of advertising effect. Agencies using them typically favoured the hierarchy‐of‐effects variants. Although more than a third of the sample eschewed models, there was little evidence of animosity towards advertising theory of itself. Non‐adoption was significantly explained by constructs drawn from the academic literature of knowledge dissemination.

Research limitations/implications

It was not possible in this study to establish precise details of agencies' in‐house proprietary models, so the degree to which those reflected either current practice or textbook prescriptions could not be determined.

Practical implications

The study emphasises the pressing need to harmonise formal models of “how advertising works” with conceptual frameworks used by advertising agencies in practice (if any), for the improvement of campaign planning and evaluation.


This is the first empirical study to investigate the extent to which advertising theory is actually used by account planners in advertising agencies.



Gabriel, H., Kottasz, R. and Bennett, R. (2006), "Advertising planning, ad‐agency use of advertising models, and the academic practitioner divide", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 505-527.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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