Hershey company continuing to feel the heat from foreign students
Reported by: Annie McCormick
August 22, 2011
The protests continue for a group of foreign students who say they were duped into boxing chocolate instead of studying abroad.
Since the students walked off the job last week their story has gained national attention, how will it affect the Hershey brand?
That depends on who you ask. Some say Hershey is bulletproof. But we checked in with a local advertising agency who says it could make their sweet reputation bitter.
Angry foreign students who say they signed up & paid money for a cultural experience in America are not quieting down.
They claim the U.S. State Department J-1 visa program placed them in a warehouse for Excel packing Hershey chocolate.
“Hershey is passing the buck,” stated Saket Soni of the National Guestworkers Association.
“The bigger they are the harder they fall,” warns image expert Nancy Sacunas of local business Sacunas Integrated Communications. “I’m sure that was a part of the students’ strategy.”
Sacunas, President of Sacunas Integrated Communications says it is now a situation of poor foreign students versus the big Hershey Company.
“They obviously have a lot more history they can lean on to leverage but, if not handled properly it can hurt them,” Sacunas added.
Monday, students asked the non-profit agency who placed them in the jobs for their money back. Then they announced they will tour PA with their message, while others in the group oversee working conditions at the warehouse.
“We’re taking a 2-prong approach, on one hand students are talking about their problems but also listening to Pennsylvanians,” Soni added.
With a globally popular brand, some say Hershey is immune; however, tugging at consumer heart strings could give any brand a hit.
“It takes 7 years to create a strong brand and one episode could destroy it,” Sacunas cautions.