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Hershey's attacked in ad by child labor organization

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Juan Martinez, senior editor, Direct Marketing News
Juan Martinez, senior editor, Direct Marketing News

The International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), a child labor watchdog organization, will launch an attack ad against Hersehy's on the Jumbotron outside of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during the Super Bowl, the company said in a Jan. 31 statement. The ad will appear alongside ads by McDonalds and AllState and will reach more than 250,000 people, according to the ILRF.

The ILRF claims Hershey's does not “take responsibility for its cocoa supply chain and improve conditions for workers,” according to the statement. The ILRF also makes the argument that Hershey's forces more than 200,000 children to harvest cocoa beans each year.

“Unlike some of its competitors, Hershey has made no movement to allow a third-party to investigate the exploitation of children by its cocoa suppliers. Additionally, Hershey's refuses to provide information about how the small amount of money it has invested in West Africa has actually reduced forced, trafficked, and child labor among its cocoa suppliers,” the statement said.

Hershey's, which did not respond to requests for comment, announced plans on Jan. 30 to reinforce cocoa sustainability efforts by accelerating farmer and family development in West Africa, as well as an initiative that enables a third-party to monitor and audit practices on farms supplying certified beans to Hershey, including instances of unsafe or illegal child labor.

Because Hershey's hasn't returned requests for comment, it's difficult to fully indict them for something that is happening on the other side of the world. But previous allegations from other organizations paint a pretty awful picture of what's happening with Hersey's labor practices.

{UPDATE]: Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications at The Hershey Corp., sent me an email claiming ILRF has released a statement saying it would not run the ad. I have yet to confirm Beckman's claim.

[UPDATE]: In response to Hershey's Jan. 30 announcement, The ILRF has agreed not to run the ad. 

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