Selling Lies: Brands Force Trans Representation Into Ad Campaigns Even When It Makes No Sense

Lately it seems like national brands are competing for the title “Wokest of Them All.” For many, that means incorporating trans-identifying individuals into marketing campaigns whenever they can.

The latest example of this came courtesy of Hershey’s, a legacy chocolate brand. The Pennsylvania-based candy manufacturer decided to celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day by featuring a man in their campaign. This was justified and even celebrated by activists because Fae Johnstone publicly claims to be a woman, too.

Johnstone was one of five people featured in the Hershey’s “Her For She” campaign, which is said to “shine a light on the women and girls who inspire us every day.”

“The chocolate’s out of the wrapper! Honoured to be featured in this campaign by [Hershey’s] Canada for #InternationalWomensDay alongside 4 brilliant sisters and change-makers,” Johnstone posted alongside the video promo on Twitter.

“We still have a long way to go in the fight to end misogyny, patriarchy and gender-based violence,” the LGBTQ activist shared in a follow-up. “I hope this campaign helps give more young women and girls role models and possibility models. And shows them how we can change the world, together.

This was enough to set off a firestorm on Twitter, with the hashtag “BoycottHersheys” trending all day and many critics voicing their confusion over why the brand would choose a so-called trans woman for a promotion meant to celebrate women.

“You get the feeling that these companies *always* despised women — they were just waiting for the right moment to stick it to us,” author Abigail Shrier tweeted. “Here’s the thing about real women, [Hershey’s]: We have long memories.”

“There are 3.9 billion females out there and Hersheys decided to pick a misogynist dude for International Women’s Day,” another person observed.

“They decided to also release a commercial that featured one of the best women in the world, one of the best women in the world, a dude,” Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro said on his podcast Thursday. As for how this particular campaign could help women, he joked, “It will help single, lonely 40-year-old women relieve their depression by eating as much chocolate as possible, presumably.”

Hershey’s is not the only company enlisting trans-identifying people to promote their products. An estimated 1.4% of Americans identify as transgender per a 2022 poll, with a vast overrepresentation among younger adults and teens. But despite this statistically small number of the total population, many companies have decided that showing off their trans acceptance is the best way to sell stuff. Or virtue signal to the masses, at least.

People may remember not so long ago when Gillette tried to pull a similar stunt. In 2019, the brand posted an ad called “First Shave, the Story of Samson,” showcasing trans activist Samson Bonkeabantu Brown shaving for the first time as part of their #MyBestSelf campaign. Brown, who identifies as male but is female, gets lessons from dad for the occasion.

“Whenever, wherever, however it happens – your first shave is special,” the video caption says.

“Growing up, I was always trying to figure out what kind of man I want to become and I’m still trying to figure out what kind that I want to become,” Brown says in the video, as The Daily Wire previously reported.

“Now don’t be scared. Shaving is about being confident. You are doing fine,” Brown’s father says during the clip.

“It’s not just myself transitioning. It’s everyone around me transitioning,” the trans activist continues.

The ad ends with a close-up shot of Brown smiling, with overlaying text that says, “The best a man can get.”

“We anticipated there would be some negative response to this video, however we’re thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive responses we’ve seen, from both consumers as well as organizations,” a statement from Gillette said after the ad launch.

“As a brand committed to helping men look, feel and act their best, it’s important to us to embrace inclusivity in how we portray masculinity. This is especially true for Samson and others in the trans community, which is why we created ‘First Shave.’”

And there’s more where that came from. Makeup brands are rife with trans representation, with Benefit Cosmetics and Elf Beauty bragging about how they’ve been including trans-identifying individuals in ad campaigns since 2015.

“When you see societal shifts like this as a brand, you have a choice: You either lead culture, go alongside culture, or you follow it,” Kory Marchisotto, chief marketing officer at Elf Beauty, said of their trans-inclusive ad campaigns, per Insider. “You have to ensure that you’re aligned with your community. If you’re a brand that’s not celebrating inclusivity today, you might have a problem in achieving your business objectives.”

On the grosser end of the personal care spectrum, the feminine hygiene brand Luteal released a graphic campaign called “Bleeding Beyond the Binary” featuring an array of people wearing white clothing stained with what appears to be period blood. These individuals have a range of body types and many are dressed to look like men in an effort to include trans men. “People have periods,” the ad says.

Brand founder Alexa Perry, who identifies as queer and nonbinary, defended the graphic ad.

“…Each and everyone of the people in this campaign have forged their own reality. They dared to imagine a world full of love and celebration. So we join them today in celebrating all of the possibility for change in a world that so desperately needs it.”

Not to be outdone, the wokest coffee company, Starbucks, released an ad focused on a trans person who wants to change names. The commercial, which is accompanied by sad piano music, features a woman with short hair who keeps getting referred to as “Jemma” throughout the day at various places. But when “Jemma” arrives at Starbucks, there’s an opportunity to change things.

The barista asks for the name for the order to write on the cup, prompting “Jemma” to say, “James.” Finally, the individual smiles on hearing “James” called out when the coffee order is ready. This British commercial won the Channel 4 Diversity Award in 2019.

“At Starbucks, writing your name on a cup and calling it out is a symbol of our warm welcome. It’s a small gesture, but it’s symbolic of what we believe in: Recognition and acceptance, whoever you are, or want to be. We welcome everyone,” the company said in their YouTube video caption.

Interestingly, trans representation in ads goes all the way back to 1997. Modern LGBTQ activists would most likely take offense at how the main character in the Holiday Inn ad that ran during that year’s Super Bowl game was met with shock and horror rather than joyous acceptance.

In that highly publicized ad spot, a “woman” is seen entering a high school reunion in a sexy dress while a voiceover describes the cost of various plastic surgeries. A man stops the bombshell and tries to guess at the person’s name before making a face upon realizing who the person is. “Bob? Bob Johnson?,” the man asks while looking horrified.

The voiceover concludes with the punchline, saying if those changes can be achieved with a few thousand dollars, then just imagine what a billion dollar renovation at Holiday Inn hotels will look like.

The ad caused an absolute uproar and was taken down a few days later.

These days, most people don’t bother to complain about ads promoting transgenderism, and those who do are shouted down as backwards and bigoted. The progressive agenda is so mainstream that it’s become exceedingly rare to find a new commercial or ad campaign that doesn’t intentionally include an underrepresented group.

The new Hershey’s campaign came as a surprise to no one who’s been paying attention to the infiltration of the ad industry. The best way to fight back is to stand up, speak out, and of course, stock up on Jeremy’s Chocolate with or without nuts.


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