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For many brands, the Super Bowl is a happy time. Millions of dollars are spent on ads during one of sporting's biggest events, giving companies the ability to reach millions upon millions of consumers. No effort is spared in trying to delight them, and when a company does, it can be a huge boon to a brand's profile.

But the Super Bowl may not be so happy for Hershey's this year if an activist group gets its way.

That's because an organization called the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is planning to engage in what it is calling the "the first-ever Super Bowl 'brand-jamming' ad." The ad. dubbed, Hershey's Chocolate: Kissed by Child Labor, will call attention to child labor violations the ILRF alleges Hershey's allows to occur in West Africa. It will be displayed on a jumbotron outside of the Super Bowl venue, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

According to the ILRF, the ad will reach some 250,000 passersby, and you can be sure that the ad will make its way to the internet as well.

The child labor issue is one that has dogged Hershey's in the past year, and ILRF's high-profile attempt to 'brand-jam' the iconic chocolate maker at this year's Super Bowl is just the latest in a string of efforts to get the company to make changes to its supply chain.

Needless to say, Hershey's would probably beg to differ with the activists who claim that the company is engaged in broad exploitation of child labor, but nonetheless, Hershey's has a big question to answer: should it respond to the brand-jamming.

It appears it already has, issuing a press release today touting the expansion of "responsible cocoa community programs" in West Africa. The timing isn't likely a coincidence.

This is all fascinating from a PR perspective, but the real test, of course, is what consumers do. If the ILRF's claims are accurate, or partially accurate, convincing consumers of that is important. But getting them to vote with their wallets is all-important. Can a hefty dose of Super Bowl brand-jamming influence how they vote? We shall soon see.

Patricio Robles

Published 30 January, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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