Assessing the Greenness of Environmental Advertising Claims Made by Multinational Industrial Firms
Growing skepticism about green advertisements calls for a thorough investigation of the environmental claims made by firms. This is particularly important in the context of industrial and international markets, where research on the subject is virtually non-existent. By employing legitimacy theory, this article develops several research hypotheses linking various dimensions of environmental claims made in green advertisements (i.e., focal points, evaluation areas, leverage aspects, driving forces) with advertising greenness (i.e., shallow, moderate, deep). It then tests these hypotheses with data obtained from a content analysis of 383 green magazine advertisements by multinational firms producing industrial goods. In accord with legitimacy theory, the results indicate that, the stronger the greenness of an advertisement: (a) the greater the use of focal points relating to a product, processes, image, and facts; (b) the more specific, strong, substantive, and acceptable are the issues raised; (c) the higher the employment of rational, emotional, and moral points to leverage environmental matters; and (d) the sharper the driving forces relating to the planet and its flora, fauna, and human entities. Several important conclusions, managerial implications, and directions for future research are derived from these findings.