Woke brand activism authenticity or the lack of it

Abas Mirzaei*, Dean C. Wilkie, Helen Siuki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing popularity of woke brand activism, tied to movements such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too, is creating new opportunities for brands to signal their responsibility and concerns toward social issues. However, such woke activism can lead to consumer backlash, hence carrying significant risks. Brands struggle to convince the public that their virtue-signaling efforts are authentic. Thus, this study explores the dimensions of woke branding authenticity, adopting an interpretive inductive research approach, and conducting content analysis. This study identifies six dimensions for woke activism authenticity: social context independency, inclusion, sacrifice, practice, fit, and motivation. By exploring different drivers of woke activism authenticity, this study proposes as a conceptual model, the woke activism authenticity framework, highlighting the interactions among the woke authenticity dimensions. The findings make conceptual contributions and offer several managerial recommendations toward woke authenticity and neutralizing the perception of inauthenticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Authenticity
  • Brand activism
  • Brand strategy
  • Consumer backlash
  • Social movement
  • Woke


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