JMM Special Issue Call for Papers – Deadline for submissions 16 October 2017

Marketing (as) Rhetoric

  • Guest Editor: Chris Miles, Department of Corporate and Marketing Communication, Bournemouth University, UK.
  • Guest Editor: Tomas Nilsson, Department of Marketing, Linnaeus University, Sweden.

It is fifteen years since Tonks (2002) argued in the pages of the Journal of Marketing Management that “rhetoric needs to have a more central location in making sense of marketing management” (p. 806). How far has this clarion call been answered? Are we any closer to an understanding of what it might mean to recast marketing theory and practice as a rhetoric? Or are we all still in thrall to the latest logic? To what degree has the ‘rhetorical turn’ in the human sciences had an influence on scholarship and teaching in marketing?

The Journal of Marketing Management is calling for submissions to a special issue exploring the ramifications of “marketing (as) rhetoric”. This call is running in parallel with the 1st International Conference on Marketing (as) Rhetoric, which will be held at Bournemouth University in June 2017, however, participation in the conference is not a prerequisite for submission to JMM, and this is an open call for submissions.

While rhetorical approaches have become part of the standard toolbox in management studies (Hartelius & Browning, 2008; Bonet & Saquet, 2010) and have made a notable impact in economic scholarship (McCloskey, 1983, 1985) their adoption in marketing has been comparatively slow. A small but dedicated group of advertising scholars have perhaps had the most visible success in applying rhetorical criticism to a marketing topic area (McQuarrie & Mick, 1992, 1996, 2003; Phillips & McQuarrie, 2002, 2004; Scott, 1994; Stern, 1998, 1990). At the same time, there has been some investigation of the substantial part that rhetorical strategies play in the success of our most valued marketing scholars and marketing concepts (Brown, 2005; Hackley, 2003; Miles, 2010, 2013, 2015) as well as efforts to situate aspects of marketing practice within a rhetorical frame (O’Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy, 2004; Nilsson, 2015; Marsh, 2013; Persuit, 2013).

It should be noted that the Journal of Marketing Management has played a significant role in the incubation of this nascent ‘rhetorical turn’ in marketing. In addition to Tonks’ (2002) article the journal has consistently published articles that adopt rhetorical tools or paradigms to explore issues in marketing (Brown, 2004; Dean, 2005; Miles & Ibrahim, 2013; Moufahim, 2007; O’Reilly, 2000; O’Shaughnessy, 2005; Page & Mapstone, 2010; Palmer et al, 2014; Press & Arnould, 2014; Shankar & Patterson, 2001) and recently even dedicated a special issue to the rhetorical figure of anthropomorphism (volume 29, issue 1/2).

However, given the historically central place that strategies of persuasion and control have at the heart of marketing thought it is remarkable that rhetoric remains such a rare framework for marketing thinking and scholarship. Has academic marketing’s (unrequited) love for the trappings of ‘science’ made rhetoric an unworthy research partner? Is there something at the root of rhetoric that makes marketers uncomfortable? Why are some young marketing scholars happy to adopt discourse analysis but remain wary of the far more developed traditions of rhetorical criticism? The special issue hopes to deals with these challenging questions. Additionally, we are keen to encourage engagements with rhetorical themes across all aspects of marketing theory and practice. Below is an indicative (but not exclusive) list of possible submission topics:

  • Rhetoric and the “attention economy” (Lanham, 2007)
  • Rhetorical strategies as marketing strategies
  • Advertising/PR and rhetoric
  • Rhetoric and social media marketing
  • The rhetoric of marketing relationships
  • The rhetoric of marketing pedagogy
  • Rhetoric as a unifying theory for marketing
  • Propaganda, political marketing, and rhetoric
  • Sales and rhetoric
  • Critical marketing / postmodern marketing and rhetorical theory and criticism
  • Explications of particular rhetorical figures and schools and their relevance for marketing
  • Contemporary rhetorical criticism and marketing theory
  • Kairos and marketing techniques
  • Logos/ethos/pathos as marketing frames
  • Copia and marketing pedagogy
  • Sophism and modern marketing

We particularly welcome contributions that examine the legacy of Sophism as it relates to the marketing function and to the overall understanding of marketing. Given that Laufer and Paredeise’s (1990) dictum that “marketing is the bureaucratic form of Sophism” was so clearly an inspiration for Tonks’ (2002) own stance and that the reappraisal of Sophism continues to go from strength to strength (Poulakos, 1983; Lanham 1993, 2007; Cassin, 2000; Corey, 2015; Tindale, 2010), we would encourage scholars to continue this line of investigation and submit papers which examine the relationships between Sophism and all aspects of marketing.

Submission Requirements and Due Date:
Authors should submit manuscripts of between 8000–10000 words (excluding tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes). All submissions must strictly follow the guidelines for the Journal of Marketing Management. These are available at: Manuscripts should be submitted online using the Journal of Marketing Management ScholarOne Manuscripts site ( New users should first create an account. Once a user is logged onto the site submissions should be made via the Author Centre. Authors should prepare and upload two versions of their manuscript. One should be a complete text, while in the second all document information identifying the author should be removed from the files to allow them to be sent anonymously to referees. When uploading files authors will then be able to define the non-anonymous version as “Complete paper with author details”, and the anonymous version as “Main document minus author information”.

To submit your manuscript to the Special Issue choose “Special Issue Article” from the Manuscript Type list when you come to submit your paper. Also, when you come to the ‘Details and Comments’ page, answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Is this manuscript a candidate for a special issue’ and select the Special Issue Title of Marketing (as) Rhetoric in the text field provided.

Informal queries regarding guest editors’ expectations or the suitability of specific research topics should be directed to the Special Issue Editors:

  • Dr Chris Miles (Department of Corporate and Marketing Communication, Bournemouth University, UK).
  • Dr Tomas Nilsson (Department of Marketing, Linnaeus University, Sweden).

The closing date for submissions is 16 October 2017.

Technical queries about submissions can be referred to the Editorial Office


Bonet, E., & Sauquet, A. (2010). Rhetoric in management and in management research. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 23(2), 120–133.
Brown, S. (2004). Writing Marketing: The Clause That Refreshes. Journal of Marketing Management, 20(3–4), 321–342.
Brown, S. (2005). Writing Marketing: Literary Lessons from Academic Authorities. London, Sage.
Cassin, B. (2000). Who’s Afraid of the Sophists? Against Ethical Correctness. Hypatia, 15(4), 102-120.
Corey, D. (2015). The Sophists in Plato’s Dialogues. Albany, State University of New York Press.
Dean, D. (2005). Fear, Negative Campaigning and Loathing: The Case of the UK Election Campaign. Journal of Marketing Management, 21(9–10), 1067–1078.
Hackley, C. (2003). “We Are All Customers Now . . .” Rhetorical Strategy and Ideological Control in Marketing Management Texts. Journal of Management Studies, 40(5), 1325–1352.
Hartelius, E. J., & Browning, L. D. (2008). The Application of Rhetorical Theory in Managerial Research: A Literature Review. Management Communication Quarterly, 22(1), 13–39.
Lanham, R. (1993). The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts. Chicago. University of Chicago Press
Lanham, R. (2007). The Economics of Attention: Style And Substance In The Age Of Information. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Laufer, R., & Paradeise, C. (1990). Marketing Democracy: Public Opinion and Media Formation in Democratic Societies. London, Transaction Publishers.
Marsh, C. (2013). Classical Rhetoric and Modern Public Relations. London, Routledge.
McCloskey, D. (1983). The rhetoric of economics. Journal of Economic Literature, 21(2), 481–517.
McCloskey, D. (1985). The Rhetoric of Economics. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press.
McQuarrie, E. F., & Mick, D. G. (1992). On Resonance: A Critical Pluralistic Inquiry Into Advertising Rhetoric. Journal of Consumer Research, 19(2), 180–197.
McQuarrie, E. F., & Mick, D. G. (1996). Figures of Rhetoric in Advertising Language. Journal of Consumer Research, 22(4), 424–438.
McQuarrie, E. F., & Mick, D. G. (2003). Visual and verbal rhetorical figures under directed processing versus incidental exposure to advertising. Journal of Consumer Research, 29(4), 579–87.
Miles, C. (2010). Interactive Marketing: Revolution or Rhetoric? London, Routledge.
Miles, C. (2014). The rhetoric of managed contagion: Metaphor and agency in the discourse of viral marketing. Marketing Theory, 14(1), 3-18.
Miles, C. (2014). Rhetoric and the foundation of the Service-Dominant Logic. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 27(5), 744–755.
Miles, C., & Ibrahim, Y. (2013). Deconstructing the meerkat: fabular anthropomorphism, popular culture, and the market. Journal of Marketing Management, 29(15/16), 1–19.
Moufahim, M., Humphreys, M., Mitussis, D., & Fitchett, J. (2007). Interpreting discourse: a critical discourse analysis of the marketing of an extreme right party. Journal of Marketing Management, 23(5), 537–558.
Nilsson, T. (2015). Rhetorical Business: A study of marketing work in the spirit of contradiction. Lund, Lund University.
O’Reilly, D. (2000). On the Precipice of a Revolution with Hamel and Prahalad. Journal of Marketing Management, 16(1–3), 95–109.
O’Shaughnessy, N. (2005). The British General Election of 2005: A Summary Perspective. Journal of Marketing Management, 21(9,10), 907–923.
O’Shaughnessy, J. & O’Shaughnessy, N. (2004). Persuasion in Advertising. London, Routledge.
Page, K., & Mapstone, M. (2010). How does the web make youth feel? Exploring the positive digital native rhetoric. Journal of Marketing Management, 26(13–14), 1345–1366.
Palmer, M., Simmons, G., & Mason, K. (2014). Web-based social movements contesting marketing strategy: The mobilisation of multiple actors and rhetorical strategies. Journal of Marketing Management, 30(3–4), 383–408.
Persuit, J. (2013). Social Media and Integrated Marketing Communication: A Rhetorical Approach. New York, Lexington Books.
Phillips, B. J., & McQuarrie, E. F. (2002). The development, change, and transformation of rhetorical style in magazine advertisements 1954-1999. Journal of Advertising, 31(4), 1–13.
Phillips, B. J., & McQuarrie, E. F. (2004). Beyond Visual Metaphor: A New Typology of Visual Rhetoric in Advertising. Marketing Theory, 4(1), 113–136.
Poulakos, J. (1983). Toward a Sophistic Definition of Rhetoric. Philosophy & Rhetoric, 16(1), 35-48.
Press, M., & Arnould, E. J. (2014). Narrative transparency. Journal of Marketing Management, 30(13–14), 1353–1376.
Scott, L. M. (1994). Images in advertising: The need for a theory of visual rhetoric. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(2), 252–273.
Stern, B. B. (1988). Medieval allegory: Roots of advertising strategy for the mass market. Journal of Marketing, 52(3), 84–94.
Stern, B. B. (1990). Other-speak: classical allegory and contemporary advertising. Journal of Advertising, 19(3), 14–26.
Tindale, C. (2010). Reason’s Dark Champions: Constructive Strategies of Sophistic Argument. Columbia, University of South Carolina Press.
Tonks, D. (2002). Marketing as Cooking: The Return of the Sophists. Journal of Marketing Management, 18(7–8), 803–822.

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, unless otherwise stated. Third party materials remain the copyright of the original rightsholder.

Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this posting are the views of the Author(s), and are not necessarily the views of the JMM Editors, Westburn Publishers Ltd. or Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.