Twitter Calling For Hershey's Boycott Over International Women's Day Promo

Social media has become a hotbed of online activism and criticism from both sides of the political spectrum, and of course, food companies are no exception, with calls for boycotts over things as big as Pepsi's political donations to issues as small as Starbucks' famous 2015 "red cup controversy." So when a company makes the choice to tackle a social topic in its advertising and promotional campaigns, no matter how innocuous the cause or how gently it's done, you know there is some outrage on the horizon.

The latest round of Twitter controversy is underway, with calls for a boycott targeting Hershey's over its ad campaign celebrating International Women's Day 2023. With the campaign, Hershey's is attempting to highlight the impact women have on our society and within our individual lives. The chocolate company has run similar campaigns before, including last year, when it rolled out the "Celebrate SHE" promotion in the U.S. for the first time. Taking place during Women's History Month, the International Women's Day campaign usually involves limited-edition packaging and social media promotion of fans' stories about important women in their lives. Unfortunately, this year's promo has sparked a round of criticism tied to one of the women included in the Canadian campaign.

Some social media users are upset a trans woman is being celebrated

The anger directed at Hershey's over its 2023 International Woman's Day campaign is tied to the decision to honor Fae Johnstone, a trans woman and activist. As part of the promotion, Johnstone's face will be featured on limited-edition Hershey's chocolate bars sold in Canada, alongside four other women chosen by the company. The announcement of Johnstone's participation has prompted backlash against Hershey's on Twitter, with several prominent users criticizing the inclusion of a trans woman as disrespectful or overly political. A hashtag calling for a boycott of Hershey's also started trending on Twitter in the wake of the criticism.

The new campaign and Johnstone's appearance also sparked celebration and support from other Twitter users, including friends, fans, and trans entertainers who thanked Johnstone for representing them. 

Bloomberg reports that Hershey's has released a statement saying it stands by the choice and its decision to celebrate inclusiveness. Johnstone responded on Twitter, "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. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not shutting up. I will always stand up for women and girls, cis and trans."