#BoycottHersheys is spreading on Twitter about the Women’s Day campaign

New York (CNN) Calls to boycott Hershey are spreading on Twitter in response to the chocolate company’s Canadian campaign for International Women’s Day, which includes a trans woman.

It’s the latest example of a brand generating a strong but mixed response to a promotional campaign that touches on cultural or social issues.

Fae Johnstone, a queer, trans and feminist activist, posted in a series of tweets Wednesday about participating in the Her for She campaign.

It “means a lot to fit in, as a young(ish?) trans woman,” Johnstone wrote. “I grew up with few trans role models. Many young trans people have never met a trans adult. I hope this campaign shows trans girls that they can dream big and change the world too.”

Johnstone’s posts were praised and supported, but also angered at Hershey, much of which contained anti-trans rhetoric. On Thursday, some used #BoycottHersheys to voice their opposition to the campaign, while others used it to criticize the critics.

“We value togetherness and recognize the strength created by diversity,” Hershey said in a statement to CNN about the response to the campaign. “For 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.”

It’s not uncommon for companies to face backlash for actions that customers perceive as politically charged.

Nike was the target of a boycott campaign when Colin Kaepernick appeared in an ad in 2018 after the footballer became a polarizing figure by kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness about police brutality.

More recently, right-wing pundits maligned M&Ms as “awake” after the candy brand introduced a new female “spokescandy” and placed her on M&M wrappers as part of a marketing campaign.

Brands often align themselves with certain values ​​as a way to entice customers, especially younger ones. But that tactic could also upset others who disagree with the brand’s messaging.

In this campaign, Hershey tapped five women, including Johnstone, who are activists in their fields.

Kélicia Massala and Rita Audi each focus on gender equality, Naila Moloo is a climate technology researcher, and Autumn Peltier is an Indigenous rights and water activist, according to Hershey’s Her for She website. The women each talk about themselves and their work in a series of videos posted on the page. The campaign also includes limited edition chocolate bars with special packaging.

While it is risky for brands to enter the political fray, it can pay off.

A 2018 poll found that among people aged 35-44, 52% of respondents favored Nike’s use of Kaepernick in its commercial. The following year, Nike won an Emmy for its Kaepernick commercial. And Nike isn’t hurt financially by the decision — the company’s stock is up about 80% since 2018.






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