The UK’s most popular tissue brand, Kleenex Mansize, has been forced to clean up its image after consumers complained its name was sexist.
After more than sixty years Kleenex is phasing out the Mansize tissues name, deciding instead to call the disposable handkerchiefs “Extra Large” tissues.
Kimberly-Clark, which owns Kleenex, said it succumbed to growing public demand to change the name, despite not itself believing that the Mansize branding suggests or endorses gender inequality.
It comes amid a wider backlash against unnecessarily gendered products, with consumers and campaigners criticizing manufacturers of razors, pens, confectionary and other products over “outdated” gender stereotyping.
The Advertising Standards Authority, which regulates adverts, has also said it will ban those that encourage gender stereotypes, such as women cleaning up after their family, or men failing to do housework.
It conducted a year-long inquiry which found some adverts were portraying “potentially harmful” gender stereotypes.
Sam Smethers, chief executive at feminist campaign group, the Fawcett Society, praised the move, saying: “Rebranding mansized tissues is not to be sneezed at. Removing sexist branding such as this is just sensible 21st century marketing. But we still have a long way to go before using lazy stereotypes to sell products is a thing of the past.”
Kleenex “For Men” tissues were first launched back in 1956 when cotton handkerchiefs were still widely used, with the claim that they “stayed strong when wet”.
In 2009 Kleenex released a television advert which showed men including actor Tom Hardy and former England manager Sven Goren Ericson crying.
At present the renaming of Mansize tissues is only impacting big boxes, but compact boxes are due to be rebranded next year.
A spokesman for Kimberly-Clark said: “Kleenex Mansize tissues have been on shelves for the past 60 years. Over that time, the brand has always been characterised by a much larger tissue size, which is both soft and strong.
“It was launched at a time when large cotton handkerchiefs were still very popular and Kleenex offered a unique disposable alternative. Despite that our consumer service is registering consistent increase of complaints on gender concern related to Mansize subbrand.
“Kimberly-Clark in no way suggests that being both soft and strong is an exclusively masculine trait, nor do we believe that the Mansize branding suggests or endorses gender inequality. Our Mansize tissues remain one of our most popular products, with 3.4 million people buying these tissues every year.
“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.”