The culture wars took a different turn this week when conservatives attacked a Hershey’s candy bar ad campaign featuring a transgender woman — and then launched a competing chocolate brand labeled with two different genders.
The spat is the latest row between conservatives and what they say is the increasing “vigilance” of big business to appeal to more progressive consumers, but what traditionalists and those who argue businesses have no place to display their political views alongside their wares face, shaken.
129-year-old Hershey’s campaign was hailed by Liberals during a period celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day in Canada. It includes packages for candy bars in different countries that highlight the “HER” or “SHE” on the Hershey’s label. There is also a “HER” bar, a “SHE” bar and a “HER for SHE” bar.
That prompted the conservative news agency The daily wire launching a competitor to Hershey’s world-famous candy bar called Jeremy’s Chocolates, named after co-CEO Jeremy Boreing.
“I love an international woman. But our friends over at Hershey’s don’t even know what a woman is,” Boreing said in an ad that racked up more than a million views on Twitter in a matter of hours.
“They have hired a natural male to be their spokesperson for their Women’s Day campaign. And they call this campaign – and I swear I’m not making it up: ‘You. She’. … It’s humbling.”
And a candy bar from Jeremy’s doesn’t come cheap, about $6 a pop for a 1.5-ounce bar, with discounts for a pack of 10 or 24. A 1.55-ounce bar from Hershey’s is sold online for $1.24 on Walmart’s website.
“We have two types: ‘SheHer’ and ‘HeHim’. One of them is crazy. If you need me to tell you which one, keep giving Hershey’s your money,” jokes Boreing, before directing potential customers to IHateHersheys.com.
It’s Hershey’s “Her for She” bar in Canada that’s garnering the most attention, even calling for a boycott, after five women were chosen to have their pictures on the five different versions of the packaging, and one of them the transgender activist Fae Johnstone.
“The chocolate is out of the box!” Johnstone tweeted. “I’m honored to be featured in this @Hersheys Canada campaign for #InternationalWomensDay alongside 4 brilliant sisters and changemakers.”
But after some discussion on talk radio, mentions of the “Her She” bar on Fox News, and former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake encouraging conservatives to keep getting involved in the culture wars, #BoycottHersheys went viral on Twitter.
Hershey’s noted in a press release that it is making a donation to the nonprofit group Girls on the Run. “We hope to spark meaningful, heartwarming connections through the simple gesture of giving a SHE bar to someone who has played an important role in your life,” said brand manager Katie DeCapria in the Hershey press release.
If you ask about boycott and competition The daily wiretold Hershey news week: “We value togetherness and recognize the strength that comes from diversity. For the past three years, our Women’s History Month program has been an inclusive celebration of women and their influence. We appreciate the countless people and meaningful partnerships behind this effort.”
Meanwhile, the debate rages on Twitter. For example, Jim Treacher, a political commentator with 61,000 followers, tweeted, “Men are better at everything! Even being women!”
And conservative motivational speaker Nick Adams tweeted to his 498,000 followers an altered photo of Hershey’s Bar that emphasized “HE” instead of “HER” or “SHE” and added the caption, “I will boycott Hershey until I… see something like this on grocery store shelves.”
On the other hand is Ariel Troster, a councilor for Somerset Ward in Ottawa and a self-proclaimed “queer Jew” with 18,000 followers, who tweeted, “Fae Johnstone is brilliant and an absolutely vital public voice. Send her some love because the fanatics are out in full force after seeing her in this ad for #InternationalWomensDay.”
And Egale Canada, a legal advocacy group for the LGBTQ community, issued a statement saying it was “disgusted by the transphobic response to what should be a celebrated campaign … a national campaign like Hershey’s ‘Her for She’ campaign helps.” to increase the visibility and representation of the trans community.”
This isn’t the first time Boreing has used a company he thought was waking up as an opportunity to launch a new product, like last year when it introduced Jeremy’s Razors in response to Harry’s Razors being his advertised The daily wire because, as Boreing put it, “boys are boys and girls are girls”.
In fact, there is a growing cottage industry of conservatives who are attacking perceived wakefulness in the economy. These include the American Values Exchange Traded Fund, for investors wanting to avoid supporting left-leaning companies, and Strive Asset Management, which seeks to resist ESG, an emphasis in favor of companies that focus on environmental, social and want to emphasize sustainability governance efforts over profits.
Strive founder Vivek Ramaswamy, who recently declared his candidacy for US President, said news week in August that “the role of a depoliticized private sector is to bring us together, whether we are black or white, red or blue. A corporate body is dangerous, and that problem is caused in part by asset managers demanding that CEOs engage in a political agenda.”