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How Street Culture Helped Hershey Canada Bring Visibility to Five Incredible Women


Mint’s Laura Rothstein tells LBB how the #HerSHE campaign brought essential stories to life, and why Canada’s multiculturalism provided an extra dimension

How Street Culture Helped Hershey Canada Bring Visibility to Five Incredible Women

Great stories can only inspire those who hear them. For International Women’s Day 2022, Hershey Canada set out to make sure that the amazing stories of five women were transmitted loud and clear. 

As a result, five beautiful wrapper designs - alongside a set of raw and inspiring films - were released with the intent of telling those stories. Audiences were introduced to Marion Willis (founder and executive director of St. Boniface Street Links and Morberg House), Natalya Amres (sustainable fashion designer), Fitriya Mohamed (founder and executive director of a Muslim Women's Summer Basketball League), Yasmeen Persad (trans activist), and Erica Jacobs (founder of 100% Skate Club). Their stories all have distinctively local roots, and each serves as a testament to how these women are transforming their communities - and the world around them - for the better.

Helping to bring the campaign to life was Laura Rothstein, creative director at Mint. To find out more about how it all came together, and why the campaign was a perfect fit for Canada’s innately diverse national culture, LBB spoke to Laura. 

Above: The five beautiful bar wrappers were created by the Toronto-based Polish/Canadian artist Gosia Komorski. 

LBB> This campaign started with the idea of making women more visible. Could you talk me through how that crystallized into the final idea?

Laura> The campaign actually started life in Brazil. I have to assume it all began with someone looking at the Hershey bar one day, and a lightbulb illuminating above their head when they realized those two female pronouns were in the brand’s name! It quickly evolved into this idea of visibility - where you’re looking at the same thing for so long but suddenly you see something entirely different about it. 

When the idea was brought over to Canada, our goal was to bring it to life in a way that spoke to our market. We’re obviously a very different part of the world, and we wanted to do something which really resonated with Canadians whilst keeping true to that core idea of visibility. Ours is a very multicultural country, home to so many people with varying backgrounds and experiences - and so the concept of ‘identity’ had to be inclusive of that in addition to gender. 

As part of our search to find the right multidimensional lens, we ended up looking at street art and street culture. It’s predominantly male in popular consciousness, and so we liked the idea of taking this space where people want to be seen and look at it from a woman's perspective. In doing so, we hoped to broaden the understanding of street culture to acknowledge that it’s not just about fashion and music, and it was also about outreach, community building, and grassroots organisation. 

LBB> And in order to bring that vision to life, you worked with the Polish-Canadian artist Gosia Komorski. What made Gosia such a good fit?

Laura> Gosia was such a natural choice precisely because of that street art aesthetic. It was absolutely essential that we nailed down the right vibe - and she was essential in doing that. She’s an exceptional street artist with a tonne of experience working on murals. And again, it was another opportunity to provide visibility for women who are impacting street culture. 

LBB> What were your first impressions when you saw the art? 

Laura> What immediately struck the whole team was how beautiful they were. They’re totally distinctive, and in their own way they tell the story of each woman. That’s because Gosia interviewed each woman and established their background and what was meaningful to them. So for example, Erica - the skateboarder - has the night sky on her bar. That came from a story she told Gosia which involved her learning to skateboard at night because she felt less inhibited and not being judged, watched, or critiqued. 

There’s so many elements like that built into the imagery. We were absolutely thrilled to see them. 

LBB> And I guess the detail of these images lends itself to that point about Canada’s deep multiculturalism. Was that a conscious intention? 

Laura> Absolutely. Fitriya - the woman who started the Muslim basketball league - has a flower built into her wrapper which is the Ethopian rose. That’s her background, and like so many of us she’s ended up in Canada. But we’ve all arrived here from different places - in terms of geography, privilege, socioeconomic background, and everything else. This campaign was informed by those differences and celebrates them in a way the whole team is super proud of. 

Above: A film celebrating Fitriya's work was released as part of the campaign. 

LBB> That strikes me as something which Canada is particularly good at as a culture. In some way, do you feel like this campaign is also celebrating Canadian-ness? 

Laura> In a small way I think it is, yeah. There’s always been this classic difference between Canada and the US which is that the US is a ‘melting pot’ in which everyone assimilates together, whereas Canada is a ‘tossed salad’ where you get grouped together but retain distinctiveness. What’s great about growing up in a place as multicultural as Toronto is the more I grew up and explored my surroundings, the more cultures I encountered. 

But, like anywhere else, Canada isn’t perfect. In recent times we’ve been confronting some horrific parts of our national history, particularly in relation to our indiginous community. So there’s an acknowledgement - and I think this campaign is a part of this - that there is always more to do and more to learn about each other. 

LBB> As well as the art, a big part of this campaign was a series of films. Why was it important to also add these films, and what extra layer did it bring? 

Laura> Yeah, we worked with a great production partner out in Vancouver called Timelapse. Our goal was to speak to the street culture vibe and incorporate the energy and vividness into film, combined with a rawness and authenticity. It needed to feel very real and like it was coming from the women’s perspectives. It wasn’t about selling chocolate bars, it was just about focusing on their stories. 

None of the films were scripted, and the whole production crew was fantastic at helping to tell these stories in a raw and honest way. All we needed to do was put it together so that other people could just get a snippet of where they were coming from and what they were aiming to achieve. 

Above: Yasmeen Persad's story brought to life through film. 

LBB> As you were telling these stories, was there anything that you found personally quite profound or inspiring? 

Laura> For sure. What I’ve always found interesting is that everyone is raised in a certain way, and it’s not until we get older that we truly realize how many different lives are being lived. That goes on to inform not just how you perceive the world but also how you view your own background. What inspires me is when people take that background and use it to drive them forward, defining what they do and the ways in which they want to impact the world. I’m not someone who is necessarily spending time working to make my community better, but these women are. They’re taking their experience and sharing it with the world with the intent of making it better. It’s not about fame, or recognition, or clout, just about improving communities.

LBB> On a final note, this campaign provides a chance both to celebrate the accomplishments of women, and reflect on the work which still needs to be done in the fight for equality. Within our industry, what are your impressions of the progress that has been made, and how much remains left to do? 

Laura> I think something that advertising struggles with is hiring practices, and who we’re bringing in to do the work. Nobody is going to say ‘I don’t think women are great’. The fight for equality now is as much about structures as it is about attitudes. That’s not just to do with women, of course, but is part of a wider conversation about diversity. 

The culture of advertising is - slowly - shifting. We’re seeing conversations about empathy in leadership which are very helpful, for example. My hope is that these conversations take us to a place where we re-evaluate things like the relationship between work and life and what’s realistic. I hope it brings about a situation where people of different personality types are all able to thrive. And I hope it eventually becomes more about the structural changes that are needed to enact the sentiments which I believe an overwhelming majority of us share. But it won’t happen by accident. It needs intent, and it needs consistent visibility. 

Since launching, the campaign has been recognised at the 2022 CPRS ACE Awards, winning Gold for 'Campaign Category: Digital Communications Campaign of the Year', Bronze for 'Best Use of Media Relations', and placing as a Finalist for 'Campaign of the Year.'

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Genres: Storytelling

Categories: Confectionery , Food

Mint, Mon, 28 Mar 2022 07:07:00 GMT