CSR advertisements: a legitimacy tool?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate how companies use corporate social responsibility (CSR) advertisements to legitimise their ethical positions and how CSR advertisements vary across countries. Design/methodology/approach – The paper evaluates CSR advertisements from Chevron and Banco Real published in the news/business magazines (The) Economist and Time in the UK as well as in Veja and Exame in Brazil, leaders in their categories. The advertisements were analysed using a set of semiotic concepts. Findings – Companies use different strategies for publicising CSR. There are campaigns that appeal to consumer rationality as well as campaigns that appeal to the emotions. There is also evidence that companies use their advertisements to respond to public pressure and thus create or maintain their legitimacy in the eyes of society. Originality/value – CSR communication is an emerging field, with research focusing on corporate social disclosure mainly through web sites and corporate reports. However, little is known regarding CSR advertisements. The paper provides insights on this issue and focuses on comparative research, which is also a neglected area in the CSR field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-248
Number of pages14
JournalCorporate Communications: An International Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Communication
  • Advertisements
  • Brazil
  • United Kingdom


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