- Procter & Gamble's Always line of sanitary products is nixing the Venus symbol — a circle sitting over a cross — from its branding in order to be more inclusive, according to CNN.
- The move recognizes the needs of transgender and nonbinary individuals, who have petitioned P&G to remove the symbol typically associated with women. The argument, per CNN, is that groups that don't identify as female, like transgender men, can get periods, and also that not all women menstruate.
- It's not clear when the change will go into effect, but in a statement to CNN, P&G affirmed a commitment to diversity and inclusion and said that it is "on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers."
In removing the Venus symbol from Always products, P&G draws another line in the sand in regards to where it stands on inclusivity. Such moves are usually met with a fair amount of controversy from critics who view marketers as caving to activist pressures. P&G likely took a calculated risk in assuming that it will win more new customers — in this case, transgender and nonbinary people — than it will alienate others who are not politically aligned with its positioning.
The development falls in line with other marketing decisions from the CPG giant. P&G's Gillette brand of grooming products earlier this year released an ad that depicts a transgender teenager's first shave. The short film followed a campaign, "The Best Men Can Be," that updated the razor maker's long-standing tagline of the "Best Men Can Get" and addressed contentious topics like toxic masculinity. Gillette Venus, a line of razors targeted at women, has also featured transgender activists in its advertising.
Though some of P&G's efforts on the diversity and inclusion front generate backlash, the company is viewed as an innovator when it comes to purposeful marketing. Always' "Like a Girl" campaign from 2014 that addressed female stereotypes — i.e. "throwing like a girl" — is frequently cited as a standout campaign from the category.
Despite inspiring some consumer boycotts, P&G's adoption of a more progressive approach hasn't appeared to create a direct negative impact on business. Growth for Gillette has dragged recently, but that is more attributable to broader disruptions impacting the razor category, namely the growing popularity of cheaper-priced subscription services like Harry's and Dollar Shave Club.
P&G's baby, feminine and family care category, which includes Always, saw organic sales rise 5% in fiscal Q1 earnings released Tuesday. The Cincinnati-based CPG generally bested expectations on the earnings and sales front, leading it to raise its outlook for the year.
Other larger marketers have become more vocal in addressing issues such as gender inclusivity. Coca-Cola this summer introduced label-free Diet Coke cans in a bid to challenge stereotypes, or assumed "labels," around class, race and gender. Ads accompanying the effort profiled subjects like a black transgender activist.