Global accolades, impact for marketers

18 Sep, 2023
Global accolades, impact for marketers
Associate Professor Sommer Kapitan and Senior Lecturer Jessica Vredenburg

A paper co-authored by two AUT Marketing experts has become the most cited article for 2022 in a renowned journal.

The paper, ‘Brands Taking a Stand: Authentic Brand Activism or Woke Washing’ was written by Associate Professor Sommer Kapitan and Senior Lecturer Jessica Vredenburg, along with RMIT University’s Dr Amanda Spry and University of Auckland’s Dr Joya Kemper. It was published in the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) Journal of Public Policy & Marketing (ABDC A). It is also the most cited article (460+ citations on Google Scholar in less than 3 years) on woke washing and brand activism.

The accolades reflect the relevance and impact of the authors’ leadership in and contribution to this new field of scholarship.

In a departure from the usual approach to publishing research and then sharing it with the media, the academics credit the media for inspiring their research. In 2017, the global spotlight fell on then-US football player Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the American national anthem to protest racism and police brutality in the United States. The response was huge politically, socially, and culturally. Sommer and Jess were asked by multiple media outlets to explain the significance of Kaepernick’s actions and the decision by Nike to use him as a brand ambassador. They quickly realised it was “outside the norms of traditional marketing methodologies”.

The authors’ early research was published in The Conversation, where it has been read more than 20,000 times and republished nine times internationally.

Jess says the impact of their paper garnering so many citations is “career defining”.

“This kind of impact, both within the academic community through citation and readership as well as with wider audiences through mainstream media channels, is incredibly rewarding. That we, as co-authors, were among the first to recognise and tap into this emerging topic is academically validating.”

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