When I first see Valentines Day decorations and candies on shelves at my local grocery store, I immediately get a bad taste in my mouth. Now, I’m nor your bitter, love-hating Facebook friend who posts “happy singles-awareness day” every year. I’m also not against the holiday because its seen as another day to make money off of people, personally I enjoy celebrating Valentines Day with my SO. No, my beef isn’t with cupid or capitalism, it’s with Mars, Nestle, and Hershey’s.
For years now, these companies have been under fire for their knowledge and continued partnership with cocoa farmers who use child labor to harvest their cocoa. In some recorded cases, these children have actually been slaves, sold into that life and literally locked in cramped quarters at night so that they can’t escape. In an article on this topic published by foodispower.org, a woman who used to be enslaved on one of these farms recalls that “some of the [cocoa] bags were bigger than me. . . when you didn’t hurry, you were beaten.”
These companies, led primarily by Nestle, have since set aside money to combat child labor in African countries, and have started programs to do the same. To be honest though, it took them a good while after this news broke to get started, and they are still making money off of these farms. Lots of it. While I don’t believe all of the blame is on these companies, in fact consumers drive companies to seek the cheapest supply chain possible, one company in particular made a move recently which I found really hypocritical.
As many of you may have heard recently, the video streaming platform YouTube has found itself in a media frenzy after a series of scandals from the content creators on its site. Before the Logan Paul fiasco that occurred right at the beginning of this year, there was the YouTube Kids app showing its users, mainly children, disturbing and sometimes sexual content. The algorithm YouTube had in place to screen content for this app seemed to only look at titles and thumbnails, which allowed creeps online to make strange content that seemed “family friendly” because it featured characters like Frozen’s Elsa and Spider-Man. Some channels even appeared to be intended to appeal to pedophiles. The news broke and it was trending everywhere. Advertisers were pulling their ads from YouTube left and right.
Finding out that you have to pay $5 for a chocolate bar and can’t get an Oreo Blizzard without supporting a company that benefits from child labor isn’t fun. The click through rate on an article like that will be much lower than one where you have no blame and can point fingers at a single entity that is completely at fault. Because of this, companies can take advantage of what consumers know about to save face.
For example, when the news broke about the YouTube Kids app, Mars chocolate pulled their ads off of YouTube because they did not want to support content that exploited children.