Food for Thought: Audience Engagement with Sustainability Messages in Branded Content

Rebecca Swenson, Natalie Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Branded platforms are a growing “gray-zone” of marketing and media messages, in which corporations and news journalists partner to create content that supports strategic corporate goals while aligning with a publication’s scope of editorial coverage. As corporations are key influencers of and contributors to environmental communication, this trend has the potential to change environmental dialogue. In this article, we closely examine messages about food and sustainability, created in partnership by Chipotle Mexican Grill and the Huffington Post news site. We illustrate how use of a branded platform expanded the scope of environmental topics, issues, and frames that Chipotle addresses, how frames identified here connect to frames in coverage of science-related issues, as identified by other scholars, and discuss how branded platforms allow corporations to draw attention to polarizing environmental issues while protecting stakeholder relationships and brand reputation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-988
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Communication
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 3 2018


  • Sustainability
  • branded content
  • environmental communication
  • frame analysis
  • public relations


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