The Hershey Company came ready to celebrate Women’s History Month, but not everyone is on board with the brand’s promotions.
Hershey’s Canadian campaign for International Women’s Day has sparked debate online for featuring trans-rights activist Fae Johnstone.
The activist was one of five women chosen to be a part of the “HER bar” – which is the Canadian version of Hershey’s limited-edition “SHE bar” – in honor of Women’s History Month. The bar’s exclusive Canadian packaging features the face of Johnstone and other activists including Girl Up Québec founder Kélicia Massala, Rita Audi, Naila Moloo, and Autumn Peltier.
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Shortly after releasing the SHE bar, Johnstone took to Twitter to share a clip from her Canadian HER bar campaign in honor of International Women’s Day.
The chocolate’s out of the wrapper!
Honoured to be featured in this campaign by @Hersheys Canada for #InternationalWomensDay alongside 4 brilliant sisters and change-makers. https://t.co/0s9uh8MvHv pic.twitter.com/jdXNJfcZmo
— Fae Johnstone, MSW (@FaeJohnstone) March 1, 2023
Hershey’s first dropped its limited-edition “Hershey’s SHE bars” – in partnership with Girls on the Run – on March 1, which features its classic chocolate bar wrapped in 200-plus adjectives that people from the non-profit organization used to describe the women in their lives, according to a press release.
However, the new ad drew mixed reactions with some people displeased over Hershey’s choice to include a transwoman in their campaign – prompting Hershey’s to go viral on Twitter.
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But social media users also spoke positively about the campaign and stood behind Johnstone’s inclusion in the ad. Some even said the promotion and the backlash have driven them to purchase more Hershey products.
After Johnstone’s post garnered 2.2 million views and thousands of comments, they replied to the video thread, writing:
“We still have a long way to go in the fight to end misogyny, patriarchy and gender-based violence. I hope this campaign helps give more young women and girls role models and possibility models. And shows them how we can be change the world, together.”
Hershey has since responded to the backlash stating, “We value togetherness and recognize the strength created by diversity,” in a statement to CNN. “Over the past three years, our Women’s History Month programming has been an inclusive celebration of women and their impact. We appreciate the countless people and meaningful partnerships behind these efforts.”