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Vice and Virtue in Advertising

Share your research with the Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising

Deadline: 1 June 2020

Devil or angel on my shoulder?

Vice and virtue in advertising

Since the dawn of the advertising age, society has grappled with advertising’s role as a force for good or for ill. In 1925, Albert Lasker, head of Lord & Thomas agency, said advertising was such a powerful agent, “if you use it the least bit wrong, it will kill, it will kill, it will blight” (72); luckily, he also estimated that “80% of advertising is good” (95).

In 1963, James Webb Young, director of J. Walter Thomson agency lamented most ads “violate good taste, good sense, good manners, and the rules of good advertising” (44). At the same time, he questioned the validity of criticisms directed at the advertising industry: “Such indictments arise from the common human tendency to generalize, and to animate the inanimate into a whipping boy or villain, often in order to assuage the critics own prejudices or frustrations” (95).

David Ogilvy devotes the first chapter of Confessions of an Advertising Man to explaining he wrote the book to attract clients and boost share price, and the last chapter to exploring the question “should advertising be abolished?”

So is advertising good or bad? When it perches on society’s shoulder, is it sporting horns and a tail, or wings and a harp? Does it promote vice or virtue?

It’s complicated.

JCIRA seeks papers that explore the complicated best or worst inherent in advertising.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submissions should follow the manuscript guidelines for JCIRA
  • Authors will be instructed to designate the paper for the special issue during the fifth step in the submission process
  • The submission deadline is June 1, 2020
  • All manuscripts should be submitted through JCIRA’s online submission system, ScholarOne
  • For additional information, please contact Barbara Phillips, JCIRA’s editor

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Suitable research topics may include specific types of advertising or advertising appeals, advertising for particular products, services, or brands, advertising’s impact on society, or advertising research itself.

Papers should focus on the topic of advertising and brand communication, broadly defined as persuasive stories brands tell about themselves. This persuasive communication can occur in any marketplace situation, including traditional media, digital media, games, sponsorships, product placements, or cobranding partnerships. Brands can include products and services, but also corporations, people, places, and ideas.

This special issue is more concerned with theory-building than theory-testing. Papers should be “curious and interesting” as fits the aims and scope of the journal. All sound methods are acceptable for this special issue. We prefer empirical papers, but are open to theoretically-grounded conceptual papers with a new point of view.

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Lasker, Albert Davis (1963), The Lasker Story: As He Told It, Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Business Books. 

Ogilvy, David (1963), Confessions of an Advertising Man, Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Business Books.

Young, James Webb (1963), How to Become an Advertising Man, Lincolnwood, IL: NTC Business Books.