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2021/2022  BA-BHAAI1094U  The New Face of Branding: Political and Social Activism

English Title
The New Face of Branding: Political and Social Activism

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Bachelor
Duration Summer
Start time of the course Summer
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Max. participants 100
Study board
Study Board for BSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Karen Becker - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
  • Lisbeth Clausen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
For academic questions related to the course, please contact course instructor Karen Becker (kbe.msc@cbs.dk).
Main academic disciplines
  • Communication
  • Marketing
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 04/04/2022

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve a grade of 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with only minor mistakes or errors:
  • Identify key concepts, frameworks and theories related to Brand Activism and Corporate and Brand communication
  • Be able to identify the nuanced challenges associated with Brand Activism and Corporate and Brand communication
  • Be able to use the concepts, frameworks and theories discussed to develop both strategic and tactical recommendations for different brands
  • Be able to discuss how social and political policies and trends impact Brand Activism
  • Be able to situate Brand Activism in the Marketer’s toolkit
The New Face of Branding: Political and Social Activism:
Exam ECTS 7.5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Summer
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
The 1st and 2nd retake is a 72-hour, maximum 10-pages home assignment.
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Brands are continually seeking ways to stay connected with consumers and build a strong purpose-centered identity. Brand Activism presents as a natural extension of social and environmental responsibilities in which companies can deliver substantive purpose via integrated strategies while creating ideological connections with multiple groups of stakeholders. In this course students will explore the new role of Brand Activism as a tool to forge consumer-brand relationships, manage corporate brand reputation, and drive social and environmental impact. We will examine both the promise and the pitfalls of Brand Activism and evaluate how storytelling and digital enhancement can support Brand Activism. 


This course is about how brands are increasingly embracing social, environmental and political ideologies as a way to build their brand-centered identity and engage with various stakeholder groups. The course will explore this phenomena as an off-shoot of CSR and more traditional branding strategies. We will examine the corporate brand as the embodiment of the firm’s value position. After an introduction to what is meant by Brand Activism, we will move to examine several planning issues, including how to connect with stakeholders, choosing values and causes that are authentic, and determining risk exposure. We then move to explore how storytelling, digital enhancement and partnerships can all magnify the impact of brand activism. 


Class 1: Branding Basics and Introduction to Brand Activism 

Class 2: Brand Activism and Ideology  

Class 3: Planning: Understand your Audience and Relevant Stakeholders

Class 4: Planning: Choose a Cause and Determine Risk 

Class 5: Planing: Ensuring Authenticity 

Class 6: Executing: Use a Storytelling Approach 

Class 7: Executing: Digital Engagement

Class 8: Feedback Activity 

Class 9: Executing: Developing Partnerships  

Class 10: Evaluate and Determining Impact 

Class 11: New Horizons and a Look 

Description of the teaching methods
The course will be a combination of lectures, cases, and exercises as well as a project which will be the foundation of the course assessment.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback will be provided on daily exercises and within the formal feedback activity.
Student workload
Preparation 131 hours
Teaching 38 hours
Examination 37 hours
Further Information

Ordinary 6 week course


Preliminary Assignment:  A generic test/assignment will be developed concerning “Nordic Nine”. It will be uploaded on Canvas at the end of May. Students are expected to access this assignment before classes begin. The assignment will not be reviewed in classes.


Course and exam timetable is/will be available on https://www.cbs.dk/uddannelse/international-summer-university-programme-isup/courses-and-exams

Expected literature

The course will use a combination of cases, academic literature, and videos. The academic literature will include: 


  • Akhlaghpour, S., & Vaast, E. (2018). Digital Activism for Social Causes: Understanding Clicktivismpage7image3673552and Substantive Action. 
  • Balmer, J. M. (2012). Strategic corporate brand alignment: Perspectives from identity-based views of corporate brands. European Journal of Marketing.

  • Bartley, T., & Child, C. (2014). Shaming the corporation: The social production of targets and the anti-sweatshop movement. American sociological review79(4), 653-679.
  • Briciu, A., & Briciu, V. A. (2020). A Cultural Perspective on Brands and Symbol Affirmation. The Theory of Cultural and Iconic Branding Reviewed. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Series VII, Social Sciences and Law., 13(1), 95-102.
  • Davis, G. and White, C. (2015). The new face of corporate activism. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Fall. 
  • Dhote, T., & Kumar, V. (2019). Long-duration Storytelling: Study of Factors Influencing Retention Ability of Brands. Journal of Creative Communications, 14(1), 31-53. 
  • Hong, C. (2018). Boycotting or buycotting? An investigation of consumer emotional responses towards brand activism.
  • Hutchinson, J. (2021). Micro-platformization for digital activism on social media. Information, Communication & Society24(1), 35-51.
  • Kotler, P., & Sarkar, C. (2017). Finally, brand activism. The Marketing Journal9, 2017. Excerpted copy available:  https:/​/​www.marketingjournal.org/​finally-brand-activism-philip-kotler-and-christian-sarkar/​
  • Lee, M., & Yoon, H. J. (2020). When Brand Activism Advertising Campaign Goes Viral: An Analysis of Always# LikeAGirl Video Networks on YouTube. International Journal of Advanced Culture Technology8(2), 146-158.
  • Moorman, C. (2020). Commentary: Brand activism in a political world. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing39(4), 388-392.
  • Mukherjee, S., & Althuizen, N. (2020). Brand activism: Does courting controversy help or hurt a brand?. International Journal of Research in Marketing37(4), 772-788.
  • Romani, S., Grappi, S., Zarantonello, L., & Bagozzi, R. P. (2015). The revenge of the consumer! How brand moral violations lead to consumer anti-brand activism. Journal of Brand Management22(8), 658-672.
  • Shepherd, S., Chartrand, T. L., & Fitzsimons, G. J. (2015). When brands reflect our ideal world: The values and brand preferences of consumers who support versus reject society’s dominant ideology. Journal of Consumer Research42(1), 76-92. 
  • Shetty, A. S., Venkataramaiah, N. B., & Anand, K. (2019). Brand activism and millennials: an empirical investigation into the perception of millennials towards brand activism. Problems and perspectives in management17(4), 163.
  • Sibai, O., Mimoun, L., & Boukis, A. (2021). Authenticating brand activism: Negotiating the boundaries of free speech to make a change. Psychology & Marketing.
  • Vredenburg, J., Kapitan, S., Spry, A., & Kemper, J. A. (2020). Brands taking a stand: authentic brand activism or woke washing?. Journal of public policy & marketing39(4), 444-460.
  • Wagner, Tillmann, Richard J. Lutz, and Barton A. Weitz. "Corporate hypocrisy: Overcoming the threat of inconsistent corporate social responsibility perceptions." Journal of Marketing 73.6 (2009): 77-91. 
Last updated on 04/04/2022