Object of the Week

Hershey’s Repackaged Chocolate Bar Is Peak Performative Feminism

At a time when women have been hit hardest by the recession, brands are making International Women’s Day about themselves

Rob Walker
Marker
Published in
4 min readMar 11, 2021

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A Hershey’s chocolate bar with packaging designed specifically for International Women’s Day, with the letters “SHE” highlighted. Above the Hershey’s logo, there is the addition of the word “Celebrate,” so that in its whole it reads: “CELEBRATE HerSHEy’s.”
Photo illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: PRNewsWire: The Hershey Company

“There is no Hershey’s without ‘SHE,’” the candy behemoth announced recently.

The occasion for this, uh, insight was International Women’s Day, this past Monday. To mark the day — and March as Women’s History Month — the company “developed a small batch” of its flagship chocolate bars, with the package design tweaked to highlight the “her” and particularly the “she” elements of the name, and adding the word “celebrate.” The gesture was meant “to honor all the women and girls out there,” the Hershey Company’s press release stated.

Sure. Of course, it was also meant to perform brand awareness and empathy — and to get a morsel of free publicity for doing so. The announcement was accompanied by a HerSHEy Bar giveaway at retail locations, and a short video praising Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, Marsai Martin, and others.

There’s something about a slightly modified Hershey bar wrapper design — a literal repackaging of the same old thing — that perhaps accidentally captures the disconnect between brands and the women they say they want to celebrate.

It was also accompanied by women-centric promotions by many other brands. Google launched a campaign featuring pathbreaking women from Marie Curie to Cardi B, and a related global $25 million fund focused on economic prosperity for women. Secret, the deodorant brand, unveiled a partnership with the YWCA to tell stories of (and pledge money to) women impacted by the pandemic downturn, with a “Secret Superhero Moms” series. Netflix donated $5 million to “programs that help identify, train and provide work placements for up-and-coming female talent around the world,” described as the first step in a larger effort benefiting “the next generation of women storytellers.” Mattel’s Barbie added Eleanor Roosevelt to its “Inspiring Women” series of dolls.

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