Brands taking a stand on socio-political issues
: a qualitative study of organisations behind the scenes

  • Ricarda Carla Drewes (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Nowadays, more and more organisations take public stances in favour or against environmental-, ecological-, workplace-, legal-, social-, and political concerns. This is caused by numerous factors, but is being demanded by consumers who increasingly base their purchase decisions on brands’ non-business related actions, like brand activism practises. This rather recent phenomenon outreaches CSR actions, as it discusses a broader variety of topics, such as equal rights, racism, etc. Further, brand activism calls for a much louder communication, which may evoke controversial debates in society and thus, may put engaging organisations onto risk.Also, if not practised authentically, organisations may be accused to follow woke washing.Therefore, brand activism is a quite sensitive but also increasingly important approach to implement in a firm’s marketing strategy.As there was no evidence found that the existing body of literature in brand activism covers comprehensive insights about the organisations’ perspectives, the aim of this thesis was to contribute to the field of research by investigating internal processes behind the commitment to brand activism. Hence, the research question is: How do companies organise themselvesaround the process of making a stand on socio-political issues?To answer this question, the thesis sets out to explain first, concepts of branding, and second, the phenomenon of brand activism as defined in current literature. A qualitative research approach was carried out by conducting interviews with CEOs and communication managers of organisations engaging in brand activism. Subsequently, the raw data was analysed and evaluated in regards to the research question and three derived propositions. To analyse the raw data accordingly, a coding system was implemented on the basis of the theoretical brandactivism framework by Pimentel and Didonet (2021).In conclusion, the thesis argues that the entire process behind brand activism is mainly guided by the company’s values. Thus, it is fundamental for brand activists to define a brand’s identity and involve all employees so that they can also base individual decisions and actions correspondingly. Further, it was found that none of the interviewed organisations followed an action plan, but rather had open discussions when topics were highly critical.
Date of Award15 Mar 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorFilipa Oliveira (Supervisor)


  • Brand activism
  • Socio-political issues
  • Socio-political advocacy
  • Brand identity
  • Brand values
  • Brand purpose


  • Mestrado em Ciências da Comunicação

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