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CFP: Special Issue of Journal of Advertising: New Challenges to Advertising: A Call for Transformation, Well-Being, and Positive Social Change

Special Issue Editors

Linda Tuncay Zayer, Loyola University Chicago, USA

Catherine Coleman, Texas Christian University, USA

Shu-Chuan Chu, DePaul University, USA

Verena Gruber, Emlyon Business School, Fra

With people around the world facing complex challenges amidst increasingly uncertain futures (Willige 2024), advertising scholars have renewed interest in social and well-being impacts (e.g., Royne-Stafford and Pounders 2021; Zayer, Coleman, and Gurrieri 2023), focused on identifying problems and seeking transformative outcomes.  This special issue invites scholarship with the lens of advertising as an institution and focuses on how a systems perspective can illuminate macro-social issues. Specifically, we call for research that explores how transformation, well-being or social change can be fostered or hindered through the power of advertising.

Prior scholarship highlights advertising as an important social institution (Sandage 1972; Gurrieri, Zayer, and Coleman 2022). Institutions can be defined as “symbolic and behavioral systems,” that provide a “common meaning system” (Scott and Meyer 1994, p. 68). Accordingly, Transformative Advertising Research, a subfield of advertising inquiry proposed by Gurrieri, Zayer, and Coleman (2022) in the 50th anniversary issue of the Journal of Advertising, offers a framework, rooted in institutional dynamics (Coleman, Zayer and Karaca 2020; Zayer and Coleman 2015) to illustrate how advertising can foster well-being outcomes, as well as galvanize multiple stakeholders to bring about social good. However, in an era of rapid technological, socio-cultural, and environmental change and uncertainty, understanding how to engage in advertising efforts that are responsible, ethical, and inclusive is challenging (e.g., Verlegh et al. 2021); thus, more research is needed to advance a transformative and multi-stakeholder perspective in advertising.

Fast-moving technological change has presented numerous opportunities and challenges for positive social change, well-being, and advertising (Chu, Yim, and Mundel 2024). Recent research (Coffin 2022; Huh and Malthouse 2020; Huh, Nelson, and Russell 2023; Rodgers 2021) illustrates the transformations driven by AR, VR, metaverse, and AI enabled environments and emerging problems, including algorithm bias (e.g., Schroeder 2021). The widespread effects of social media and video games, particularly on the mental health of teens and children, is another worthy area of investigation, as is the role of digital platforms, affordances, and the business models driving media environments.

Recent years have also been marked by numerous global social and political movements, highlighted through campaigns such as #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and #FridaysForFuture, suggesting deeper socio-cultural shifts in how people think about issues such as identities, marginalization, social (in)justices, and consumer practices, which warrant attention (Fletcher-Brown et al. 2024). Advertising plays an important role in these macro social problems. Research on a range of issues related to identity (e.g., Harrison, Thomas, and Cross 2017; Timke 2019; Tsai 2010) have provided insight into opportunities for greater inclusivity, moving beyond visual representation to more systems-based accounts; yet backlash continues to emerge. Further, as demographics shift, the social impacts of changes such as aging populations bring attention to issues such as care work, mental health and wellbeing, and more.

Advertising as an institution also faces important challenges related to environmental sustainability as it shapes cultural narratives regarding climate change, and sustainability beliefs eventually inform perceived quality of life (Leonidou, Gruber, and Schlegelmilch 2022). Prior scholarship has highlighted the function of advertising as an ‘indispensable tool of capitalism’ (Park 2021) but also its role in the promotion of sustainable practices (Rathee 2024) and climate protection (Hartmann et al. 2023). As the world is ‘woefully off track’ to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, organizations are called to develop ambitious strategies to enact change (United Nations News 2023), and advertising arguably plays a key role in this endeavor. Looking ahead, research on the role of advertising as a social institution and as a force for social good remains vitally important as society faces the multi-faceted and sticky problems of today.

Potential topics

We welcome submissions using diverse theoretical, conceptual, and methodological perspectives, and empirical approaches. We encourage prospective authors to review recently published papers in the Journal of Advertising to understand the Journal’s rigor and style.

Topics may include:

  • Representational harms caused by technologies and environments such as AI, metaverse, augmented reality, virtual reality, and gaming

  • Negative impacts of social media algorithms on consumer experiences, representation and well-being, particularly of vulnerable groups and marginalized communities

  • The role of digital platforms, regulators, standards bureaus, activist groups, and other entities in fostering inclusion and well-being

  • How new media environments are perpetuating extremism, violence, and threats to equality and equity

  • Research on impactful and cutting-edge efforts illustrating inclusive, responsible, and ethical representation amidst disruptive environments

  • Socio-cultural shifts impacting inclusion and well-being in advertising among different audiences, such as aging audiences and children

  • How advertising can advance environmental sustainability and combat climate change

  • How advertising can promote accurate healthcare information, and positive health practices and combat health misinformation

  • Uses and influences of advertising addressing (over)consumption or promoting demarketing

For the full call, please visit here or email


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