Kleenex to rebrand 'mansize' tissues after gender complaints

LONDON (AP) — Kleenex will re-brand its "Mansize" tissues after consumers complained the name was sexist — touching off a social media conversation about what's in a name.

The company behind Kleenex, Kimberly-Clark, said Thursday that the product, which is sold only in the U.K., will now be called "Kleenex Extra Large." Packages for the tissues describe them as "confidently strong" and "comfortingly soft."

Kimberly-Clark told Britain's Daily Telegraph that it in "no way suggests" that being both soft and strong was "an exclusively masculine trait, nor do we believe that the Mansize branding suggests or endorses gender inequality."

"We are always grateful to customers who take time to tell us how our products can be improved, and we carefully consider all suggestions," the company said in a statement.

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

The tissues, which had been on shelves for 60 years, were launched at a time when large cotton handkerchiefs were still very popular and the brand offered "a unique disposable alternative," the company said. It remains one of their most popular products, with over 3.4 million people buying the tissues every year.

Kimberly-Clark is not the first company to run into a branding issue forced by changing social views.

Among the more memorable casualties was stationery maker BiC, which ran into disparaging comments when trying to market pink and purple pens "for her." Amazon was flooded by reviews poking fun at the strategy and the notion that it was "designed to fit comfortably in a woman's hand."

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10 most valuable brands in the world

10. Target

Brand value: $13.67 billion

Percentage change from last year: -20%

Last year's rank: 7

Target is losing value fast as it struggles to keep up with ecommerce focused brands, but is adding new initiatives like same-day delivery of online orders to become more competitive. Even though it's value is down, Target reported same-store sales were up 6.5% in the second quarter.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

9. Lowe's

Brand value: $14.02 billion

Percentage change from last year: +1%

Last year's rank: 9

Lowe's hold's onto the same spot it held last year. Itrecently closed the Orchard Supply Hardware chain it aquired last year to focus on the Lowe's brand.

(Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

8. Walgreens

Brand value: $15.54 billion

Percentage change from last year: -3%

Last year's rank: 8

Walgreens value is down -3% from last year. The company recently reported same-store sales were down by 1.2% at Walgreens in the most recent quarter

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

7. JD.com

Brand value: $19.62 billion

Percentage change from last year: +47%

Last year's rank: 11

JD.com, a Chinese online retail giant, is growing extraordinarily fast — last year, the company didn't even hold a spot in the top 10 most valuable brands. In June, Google announced it would be investing $550 million in JD.com.

(Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

6. CVS Health

Brand value: $20.6 billion

Percentage change from last year: -12%

Last year's rank: 6

CVS Health's value is down, but the company, which is in the midst of a merger with Aetna, recently reported same-store sales were up by 1.6%.

5. Ikea

Brand value: $24.35 billion

Percentage change from last year: +1%

Last year's rank: 5

Ikea remains consistent with the almost the same value as last year. The brand was ranked fifth last year as well.

4. Home Depot

Brand value: $33.74 billion

Percentage change from last year: +12%

Last year's rank: 4

Home Depot holds onto the fouth spot from last year. Home Depot has 2,284 stores in North America, and appears to be the store of choice for millennials. In a Bank of America survey of 1,000 millennials, reported by US News, 64% said Home Depot was their top choice for home-improvement shopping.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

3. Alibaba.com

Brand value: $54.92 billion

Percentage change from last year: +58%

Last year's rank: 3

The Chinese company Alibaba.com is ranked in the same spot as last year, but the e-commerce giants value is up nearly 60%.

(REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

2. Walmart

Brand value: $61.48 billion

Percentage change from last year: -1%

Last year's rank: 2

While Walmart defends the number two ranking, its value remains roughly the same as last year.

1. Amazon

Brand value: $150.81 billion

Percentage change from last year: +42%

Last year's rank: 3

Up 47% from its 2017 value, Amazon is the largest online business by market capitalization and revenue. Beyond being an online retailer, it produces cloud infrastructure and electronics and is present in music and video streaming. In addition, the 2017 $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition took Amazon from the digital to the physical realm.

(REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

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In another example, the British grocery chain Waitrose on Thursday said it will be changing the name of its Gentleman's Smoked Chicken Caesar Roll because of complaints the name was sexist.

The roll, which is part of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal's range, contains anchovy mayonnaise, similar to a classic product called Gentleman's Relish created in the 19th century. Amy Lame, who was appointed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as the capital's first Night Czar in 2016, posted an image of the product on Twitter with a smirking emoticon.

"I never knew sandwiches were gender specific," she said. "I'm female but thankfully Waitrose let me purchase this anyway."

The post touched off some spirited replies, with some noting that Pink Lady apples, Lady Grey tea and lady fingers could be subjected to name changes. Waitrose, for its part, said it was changing the name of the sandwich.

"It's never our intention to cause offense — we're not dictating who should eat this sandwich," the company said in a statement. "We hope anyone who tries it will love the distinctive flavors."

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