Strong when wet an extra-large headache for Kleenex
#MeToo has a new casualty. It's goodbye to 'Mansize' tissues
The finer points of gender equality are not to be sneezed at.
After more than 60 years Kleenex has been forced to rebrand its “Mansize” tissues after receiving complaints that the brand was sexist.
Kimberly-Clark, which owns Kleenex, said the tissues would now be known as “Extra Large”, 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 criticising manufacturers of razors, pens, confectionery and other products over potentially harmful gender stereotyping.
Britain’s 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 the UK’s feminist campaign group, the Fawcett Society, praised the move, saying: “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 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 football manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, crying.
At present the renaming of “Mansize” tissues will only be on big boxes, but compact boxes are due to be rebranded next year.
A spokesperson for Kimberly-Clark said: “Kleenex Mansize tissues have been on shelves for the past 60 years. [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 sub-brand.
"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 sub-brand as Kleenex Extra Large.” - © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2018)