Hershey’s faces backlash over its International Women’s Day ad campaign, which features a transgender woman and 2SLGBTQIA+ advocate Fae Johnstone.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Hershey Canada partnered with Girl Up to produce five limited-edition “HER for SHE” chocolate bars. Each chocolate bar features an inspirational Canadian woman taking action to build a better future on the packaging. The women featured are Autumn Peltier, Rita Audi, Naila Moloo, Kélicia Massala and Fae Johnstone.
While many people rushed to social media to congratulate the brand on featuring Johnstone, the decision also prompted extreme backlash from conservative organizations and individuals.
#BoycottHersheys quickly became a trending topic on Twitter following the release of the campaign. Co-founder of the organization Women for Trump Amy Kremer was among those who publicly reprimanded the “HER for SHE” campaign, calling for a nationwide boycott of Hershey products.
Arguments against the campaign include the opinion that the inclusion of a transgender woman in International Women’s Day is, in fact, misogynistic towards women.
Hershey has defended the campaign, highlighting the value of inclusiveness and diversity, as well as the important work done by Johnstone in her role as an activist and educator. “We appreciate the countless people and meaningful partnerships behind these efforts,” stated a tweet on the official The Hershey Company account.
Fae Johnstone also tweeted about the occurrence on her private account. “The reaction to my inclusion as a trans woman in Hershey’s Canada’s IWD campaign shows just how far we still have to go in the fight for feminist liberation and trans rights,” she said.
Hershey’s decision to defend the campaign proves the brand’s values despite backlash at a time when there is a growing number of anti-trans and anti-drag bills in Republican-led states.
In addition to the limited-edition chocolate bars, Hershey’s has pledged $40,000 to Girl Up with the aim of furthering their organization which helps young women attain the necessary training and tools to build leadership and accelerate social change.