Kleenex Rebranding 'Sexist' Product After Feminist Outcry

The maker of Kleenex tissues has given in to pressure from some customers who complained that one of its most popular products had a “sexist” name.

CBS News received a statement from Kimberly-Clark regarding the “Mansize” tissue box, available only in the United Kingdom.

The brand has been available in the region for about 60 years, dating back to a rise in popularity of large cotton handkerchiefs commonly used by men of the era.

In today’s culture, however, many critics denounced the label as exclusionary.

“Thanks to recent feedback we are now rebranding our Mansize tissues to Kleenex Extra Large,” Kimberly-Clark said in its statement.

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The company further cited a “consistent increase of complaints on gender concern” as a motivating factor for the change.

According to a statement this week to The U.K. Daily Telegraph, Kimberly-Clark said that it “in no way suggests that being both soft and strong is an exclusively masculine trait” and does not believe that its longstanding brand “suggests or endorses gender inequality.”

It described the Mansize boxes as among its most popular Kleenex products, “with 3.4 million people buying these tissues every year.”

Do you think it's offensive to call a product "Mansize"?

“Nevertheless, as we remain committed to developing the best possible products for our consumers and take any feedback extremely seriously, we decided to renovate our current product and update the product subbrand as Kleenex Extra Large,” the company said.

The shift had started to take place before Kimberly-Clark announced it publicly.

“Consumers may see the new name on our larger boxes in store already,” the company told CBS News.

A corporate Twitter account for Kleenex in the U.K. posted several public replies to social media users who had griped about the branding.

“Thank you for sharing your concern,” the company wrote. “We recently made changes to our Mansize branding and will now be labeled Extra Large, keep an eye out in shops.”

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Feminist groups praised the decision.

“Kleenex’s re-branding matters because throughout marketing and advertising, we use lazy gender stereotypes to sell products and convey messages which reinforce those stereotypes,” Sam Smethers, chief executive of the U.K.’s Fawcett Society, told Sky News. “For example, strength for men and weakness for women, or we find women’s bodies used and objectified.

“I use ‘man-sized’ tissues all the time — it just means I have a bad cold!”

Critics, however, saw it as a ridiculous sign of the times.

“How did we ever become this sensitive,” one person said on Twitter. “I shouldn’t laugh – but it’s hard not to.”

Another wondered how people “actually have the time to be ‘offended’ by such ridiculous things.”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Birthplace
Virginia
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Education
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Location
Arizona
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment




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