What Is an Advertising Agency

An advertising agency is:

  • An independent business organisation
  • Composed of creative and business people
  • Who develop, prepare and place advertising on advertising media
  • For sellers seeking to find customers for their goods and services.

American Advertising Agency Association (AAAA)

 Evolution of the advertising agency

Origin of the advertising agency – the first ever agency was put together in Britain in 1800 called “Whites” which created  advertisements for the Government lotteries and mostly recruitment advertising. First agencies were no more than space brokers, selling press advertising space on a freelance basis for newspapers.

As the production and penetration of  newspapers increased, the brokers began to compete by offering copywriting and design service. The messages were repetitive and lacked creativity. This soon led to the birth of creative advertising agencies. The early account executive was known  as the “contract man”

After the Second World War the agencies developed additional services like market research, media planning etc

Today there are more than 500 advertising agencies in India today. The oldest one being Hindustan Thompson Association Ltd.

Functions of an Advertising Agency

Big agencies such as HTA, Lowe, O&M are called full service agencies because they are ONE STOP SHOP for all services that are offered to the clients. Today’s agencies are providing total communications packages for the clients’ brands. They are acting as the custodians of the client brands.


Also called “account executives”. Acts as the link between the agency and the client. He suggests what the client exactly wants to his ad agency. He is the person who carries the client brief and is also responsible for the approvals.


Under the creative director are a team of copywriters and visualisers who arrive at the “big idea”. Accordingly the storyboard is prepared and scriptwork is done. The final layout is sent for approval to the client.


The production department is responsible to convert the storyboard into a finished layout if its for print medium or Outdoor. However the TVC will be outsourced to a production house (eg. Prasoon Pandey’s HIGHLIGHT FILMS). The final storyboard is made into a technical storyboard before it is sent for shooting.


The Media Planner along with Media manager and brand manager of the client prepares the final media budget and purchases insertions for print media (space buying) or purchases radio spots or purchases TV time if its on television. Appropriate media mix is developed.


In fact research department functions before and after a commercial is made for pre-testing and post-testing of media respectively. Consumer insights and brand usages are also tested at times, according to client in many instances.


This department looks after the accounts (financial records) for the agency.

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