Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

International Journal of Advertising

For a Special Issue on

Advertising and Societal Wellbeing: Exploring Social Issues in Advertising and Brand Activism

Abstract deadline
19 December 2023

Manuscript deadline
15 November 2024

Cover image - International Journal of Advertising

Special Issue Editor(s)

Zoe Lee, Cardiff University
[email protected]

Hannah Marriott, Cardiff University
[email protected]

Kirk Plangger, King's College London
[email protected]

Paurav Shukla, University of Southampton
[email protected]

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Advertising and Societal Wellbeing: Exploring Social Issues in Advertising and Brand Activism

Several macro trends including awareness and impact of climate change, equality and sustainability concerns are driving a substantial change in consumer mindset and behaviors globally. Agile advertisers and marketers have realized these changes are increasingly focusing on concepts such as "purpose, “well-being” and "social impact". This is also evidenced by the growing academic interest in transformative advertising research (Gurrieri et al., 2022) and inclusive marketing (Eisend et al., 2022). However, there are still questions raised about the impact of advertising in particular, and marketing in general, in driving materialistic consumption (Pangarkar et al, 2021). Moreover, the continued emergence of AI technology poses new challenges for how advertising addresses societal well-being (e.g. Marriott & Pitardi, 2023). In the quest for a better world (Chandy et al., 2021), it has become imperative for research to offer theoretical and strategic insights into whether advertising does more harm or good to society. As a result, submissions related to a broad range of societal issues are welcome in this special issue.


Brand activism is gaining attention as a marketing tool for companies to express their values on societal and environmental issues (Moorman, 2020). It’s closely tied to moral judgements, determining what’s “good” or “bad” (Mukherjee & Althuizen, 2020; Verlegh, 2023). Much literature has investigated the outcomes and the question as to what is “good” or “bad” is found to be highly subjective. Such subjectivity can stem from beyond morality, and stretch to include factors such as brand relationships, brand familiarity, influencers, authenticity of brand messages and brand equity (Lee et al., 2023). Although brand activism attempts often seek to enhance societal and environmental wellbeing, how they take a stand is equally as important as what they are standing for. Vredenburg et al. (2020) show brands can be activist through silent, absent, authentic and inauthentic means. As such, it is important for advertising theory and practice to take a transformative approach to further explore the short-term and long-term effects of brand activism on societal wellbeing.


Brand activism attempts, or non-attempts, that are inherently morally “good” may, in fact, not be well-received by its consumers. For example, a luxury fashion brand takes a stand towards inclusivity in fashion and engages in authentic activism by using models with physical disabilities in their advertising. Some customers’ reactions may be positive in recognizing the importance of the brand message whilst other may feel alienated or feel that the activism is inauthentic in nature. As such, further research into brand activism attempts through advertising and their (positive or negative) effects on societal wellbeing is required.


In this special issue, we welcome discussion around the opportunities and challenges that advertising faces in striving for improvement. Given the expanding research on brand purpose, activism (Mukherjee and Althuizen, 2020; Vrendenburg et al., 2020; Hydock et al., 2020), diversity, and inclusivity (Kipnis et al., 2021), do we need to adopt a new approach to embrace these concepts effectively? As such, discussion points surrounding the following areas are encouraged:


  • Brand activism (e.g moral vs woke; impact on society, authenticity)
  • Brand purpose
  • Sustainability and advertising and “greenwashing”
  • Effectiveness of public service announcements
  • Advertising to children and older consumers
  • Advertising and minority groups (including diversity issues)
  • Advertising of risky products (pharmaceuticals, tobacco, alcohol)
  • Influencer marketing and perceived parasocial relationships
  • Privacy issues in advertising
  • Nutritional labelling and other labelling effectiveness


This special issue invites submissions from ‘Advertising and Wellbeing’ workshop accepted for the Academy of Marketing (AM2024) conference ( Authors who participated in the aforementioned workshop are encouraged to submit their work for an opportunity to receive developmental feedback. Furthermore, we extend our invitation to welcome submissions from those who were unable to attend the workshop, offering an inclusive platform and diverse perspectives in this field.


Submission timeline


Submission window:

30 September 2024 – 15 November 2024




Chandy, R.K., G.V. Johar, C. Moorman, and J.H. Roberts. 2021. Better marketing for a better world. Journal of Marketing 85, no. 3:1–9.

Eisend, M., A.F. Muldrow and S. Rosengren. 2023. Diversity and inclusion in advertising research. International Journal of Advertising 42, no. 1:52-59.

Gurrieri, L., L. Tuncay Zayer, and C.A. Coleman. 2022. Transformative advertising research: Reimagining the future of advertising. Journal of Advertising 51, no. 5: 539-556.

Hydock, C., N. Paharia, and S. Blair. 2020. Should your brand pick a side? How market share determines the impact of corporate political advocacy. Journal of Marketing Research 57, no.6: 1135-1151.

Kipnis, E., C. Demangeot, C. Pullig, S.N. Cross, Cui, C.C., C. Galalae, ... and J. D.Williams. 2021. Institutionalizing diversity-and-inclusion-engaged marketing for multicultural marketplace well-being. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 40, no. 2:143-164.

Lee, Z., A. Spry, Y. Ekinci, and J. Vredenburg. 2023. From warmth to warrior: Impacts of non-profit brand activism on brand bravery, brand hypocrisy and brand equity. Journal of Brand Management 1-19.

Marriott, H. R., and V. Pitardi. 2023. One is the loneliest number… Two can be as bad as one. The influence of AI Friendship Apps on users' well‐being and addiction. Psychology & Marketing (forthcoming).

Moorman, C. 2020. Commentary: Brand activism in a political world. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 39, no.4: 388-392.

Mukherjee, S., and N. Althuizen. 2020. Brand activism: Does courting controversy help or hurt a brand? International Journal of Research in Marketing 37, no.4: 772-788.

Pangarkar, A., Shukla, P., & Charles, R. (2021). Minimalism in consumption: A typology and brand engagement strategies. Journal of business research, 127, 167-178.

Verlegh, P. W. 2023. Perspectives: a research-based guide for brand activism. International Journal of Advertising 1-15.

Vredenburg, J., S. Kapitan, A. Spry, A. and J. A. Kemper. 2020. Brands taking a stand: Authentic brand activism or woke washing? Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 39, no.4: 444-460.





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