Helpful Hypocrisy? Investigating 'Double-Talk' and Irony in CSR Marketing Communications

Sarah Glozer, Mette Morsing

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Conventional definitions of corporate hypocrisy focus on decoupling talk and action; incidences where an organisation’s ‘talk’ does not to match its ‘walk’. In the context of corporate social responsibility (CSR), marketing communications are often aspirational and hence prone to accusations of hypocrisy. Is hypocrisy, however, always undesirable? This case-informed conceptual paper draws upon the Diesel ‘Global Warming Ready’ campaign to investigate how humour – specifically irony – elevates conventional understandings of hypocrisy towards what we term ‘helpful hypocrisy’; a concept that mobilises audiences to critically reflect on complex ambiguities of CSR in non-moralizing ways. In doing so, we distinguish between idealised ‘single-talk’ and extended ‘double-talk’. We develop an analytical model to help analyse the layers of double-talk in the context of ironic CSR marketing communications, and we construct a conceptual model that explains the role of double-talk and irony. Based on our research, we propose an agenda for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-375
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Business Research
Early online date31 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • Sustainability


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