How advertising got ‘woke:’ the institutional role of advertising in the emergence of gender progressive market logics and practices

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    The use of gender stereotypes has long been a common creative strategy used by practitioners in advertising portrayals, leading to concern over the individual and societal effects of such representations of women. However, a recent decline in this institutionalised practice has provided the stimulus for our research. As such, we explore the influences that have led to meso-level market actors working in advertising and marketing, to actively avoid the use of gender stereotypes of women in advertising depictions. We consider the role of advertising in a dynamic market system, and the influences upon advertising practitioners leading to the emergence of gender progressive market logics. Linking the experiences of an expert sample of advertising professionals with the extant literature, our study broadens understanding of the central role of advertising in shaping markets. While previous research has examined the impact of advertising on society and cultural meaning, we highlight the recursive nature of this interaction. We find that emergent gender progressive logics have been dependent upon support in public discourses, shifts in professionals’ moral conscience, voiced consumer opinion and the market success of trailblazing, gender progressive advertising campaigns. We advance empirical analysis of market system influences that have led to more socially-responsible advertising practices. This study has important implications for understanding advertising’s potential to address institutional problems in society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages18
    JournalMarketing Theory
    Early online date30 Jul 2021
    Publication statusEarly online - 30 Jul 2021


    • advertising
    • advertising in society
    • gender stereotyping
    • institutional change
    • institutional logics
    • market system dynamics
    • responsible advertising
    • social justice


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