Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Two professors in the Department of Advertising & Public Relations (A+PR), Drs. Steven Holiday and Jameson Hayes, were recognized this summer for their research in corporate responsibility and strategic planning. In June, the two attended the International Conference on Research in Advertising (ICORIA) in Bordeaux, France, where they won the gala’s “Article of the Year.”

Published as part of the top-ranked International Journal of Advertising, their article, “Corporate social responsibility & the advertising strategic planning process: a literature review and research agenda,” re-imagines current research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in advertising and provides a research agenda to continue the study in the future.

Corporate social responsibility is the idea that a business must be responsible to, and a positive influence for, the society around it, integrating concerns in public conversation into the business’s operations. It is currently understudied from the advertising perspective, according to Hayes, as most of the research centers around public relations or marketing. But due to pressure from young consumers, brands and companies are beginning to focus their advertising plans around CSR principles to “win points.” Hayes said that research in CSR initiatives will explore how these companies promote their efforts and determine how they can contribute to social causes without taking advantage of the causes for commercial gain.

“This summer, Bud Light and Target were both significantly damaged by miscalculations in CSR initiatives, leading to substantial revenue loss,” said Hayes. “Backlash over LGBTQ+ marketing resulted in a 27 percent year-over-year stock drop for Target. Meanwhile, Bud Light’s Dylan Mulvaney sponsorship cost Anheuser-Busch $395 million in revenue in North America, forcing the company to sell off several of their brands to compensate. So, now the decision-making process has become more complex for advertisers. This is why research on advertising CSR is becoming more and more needed.”

The professors’ study on CSR received “Article of the Year” due to its quality and number of downloads and citations. All articles submitted to the journal in 2022 were considered for this year’s award.

“This project was an opportunity to be a leader in the discipline, helping expand its scope and give structure to a ‘hot’ topic of conversation within the research community,” said Hayes. He added that he and Holiday hope that their article directs the conversation to more specific, advertising-related aspects of the subject.

In addition, Holiday and co-author Dr. Nancy Brinson also received an “Article of the Year” nomination for another study. Their research was a runner-up for the American Academy of Advertising.

Hayes’ other recognitions include a Best Paper award from ICORIA in 2022, a 2021 Feature Article for the Journal of Interactive Marketing, runner-up for Article of the Year in 2014 by the Journal of Advertising and the Broadcast Education Association’s Best Debut Paper award from 2010.

Holiday is an assistant professor in A+PR at The University of Alabama. Hayes is an associate professor in A+PR, where he also serves as the PhD program lead.