Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Journal of Interactive Advertising
For a Special Issue on
Brand Activism on Digital and Interactive Media
31 July 2023
Brand Activism on Digital and Interactive Media
Brand activism is an evolution of corporate social responsibility (Sarkar and Kotler 2018). It can be defined as a brand actively taking a stand on what is generally known to be a divisive social, political, environmental, or economic issue (Kotler and Sarkar 2017). With a core set of values the brand operates on, brands actively take a stand, engage in brand practices, and communicate those activities. Brand activism has become an important practice in today’s marketplace as consumers vote with their wallets and consider buying as an extension of their values, beliefs, and attitudes (Garrido 2019).
Brand activism is considered authentic when the brand’s core values and purpose align with its corporate practice and activist marketing messaging (Vredenburg et al. 2020). Brand activism is inauthentic when the brand’s practice and messaging are inconsistent. Specifically, when brands have unclear records of practices that reflect their core values and purpose but use marketing communications to show concerns about injustice, it is considered “woke washing” (Sobande 2019).
Interactive and digital media has become an essential vehicle for brand activism. P&G’s Always launched the #LikeAGirl campaign helping empower girls and women primarily through YouTube and social media. Patagonia’s Patagonia Action Works is a digital tool that connects concerned consumers with grassroots environmental organizations so individuals can participate and donate to help environmental action. Nike used a hashtag campaign, #YouCantStopOurVoice, on social media to spread the word about the fight for equality. On the flipside, interactive media provides consumers with a vehicle to voice their opinions. With its tone-deaf advertising messaging and what consumers thought was trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement, Pepsi faced severe backlash on Twitter and other social media. After a controversial “The best men can be” debuted, calls for a boycott erupted with a hashtag campaign, #BoycottGillette. Some comedians took to Twitter to post sarcastic messages to poke fun, while others criticized that the ad was a continuation of the war on masculinity. There were also voices on social media that gave support for the campaign.
Such an interdependent relationship between brand activism and interactive media has been explored in recent research. Mirzaei, Wilkie, and Siuki (2022) looked at online conversations to identify the dimensions of woke brand activism authenticity. Yoon and Lee (2021) examined video responses and audience interactions on YouTube to the Always #LikeAGirl campaign. Hartika, Pawito, and Utari (2021) examined the contents of the #BringBackOurBottle campaign by Body Shop on Instagram. Sharma and Bumb (2022) introduced the concept of and proposed a model of “femluencing,” which is femvertising coupled with influencer marketing on social media. Batista et al. (2022) tested the assertive vs. sarcastic tone of brands’ replies on social media to consumer backlash to their brand activism campaign. Yang, Chuenterawong, and Pugdeethosapol (2021) compared audience responses to Black Lives Movement content between brand posts and influencers with brand sponsorship.
This special issue of JIA aims to seek research that contributes to understanding the continuously evolving relationship between brand activism and interactive media, and the roles of advertising in the process. Theoretical, empirical, and critical research that focuses on any form of brand activism on interactive media is welcome.
Potential research topics may include, but are not limited to:
- The presence and effects of brands utilizing digital and interactive media to activate their brand activism messaging (e.g., social media, websites, blogs, vlogs, display advertising, mobile, augmented reality, virtual reality, holograms, video sharing, video streaming, video games, podcasts, webinars, chatbots, artificial intelligence, social media influencers)
- Brand activism influencing online public sentiment and reactions
- Brand activism on digital media affecting real change offline
- Brand activism integrated marketing communications campaigns utilizing a mix of online and offline media
- Success and failure cases of brand activism utilizing digital and interactive media
- Authentic brand activism leading to consumer brand evangelizing and “buycotting” online
- Inauthentic brand activism (“woke-washing” and tone-deaf activism) leading consumer brand shaming and boycotts online
- Brand activism or lack of brand activism leading to consumer hashtag campaigns
- Online communities that form for or against a brand’s activism
- Parody and spoof of brand activism on digital and interactive media, its presence, and effects
- eWOM of brand activism
- Digital and technology brands, companies, and services engaging in brand activism
References: Available upon request. Due to the space limitation, the list of cited resources cannot be provided in this announcement.
- Select the special issue title "Brand Activism on Digital and Interactive Media" when submitting your paper to ScholarOne.
- Full-length and Rapid Communication manuscripts are welcome.
- Publication schedule: Accepted articles for this Special Issue Article Collection will be published in JIA’s first available regular issue (i.e., rolling publication); the articles will also be added to a Special Issue Article Collection page upon publication, along with an introduction and editorial from the guest editors.
- Submission Deadline: July 31, 2023
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