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The toy company Hasbro has rebranded itself by dropping the “Mr.” from its popular “Potato Head” toy in an effort to be more inclusive.
In an announcement on Thursday, Hasbro noted that it would be launching the “Create Your Potato Head Family” campaign, encouraging customers to create their own Potato Head families, featuring two large potato bodies, one small potato body, and 42 accessories that will allow kids to mix and match different combinations.
The introductory video for the toy shows various combinations of “Potato Head” families, with the tag line: “There’s no wrong way to play.”
The initiative is part of an attempt by Hasbro to keep its popular toy relevant in the 21st century by allowing children to break from gender norms or stereotypes by creating their own characters and make-believe stories about those characters.
It will also allow children from single-parent or same-sex families to create characters that reflect their own life experience.
But despite its gender-neutral makeover — at least in terms of its packaging, where the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Potato Head names will be less prominently displayed on the box — the actual Mr. and Mrs. Potato head characters will continue to be sold in stores.
Following outrage on social media at the toy’s gender-neutral rebranding, Hasbro later tweeted: “Hold that Tot — your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere! While it was announced today that the POTATO HEAD brand name & logo are dropping the ‘MR.’ I yam proud to confirm that MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD aren’t going anywhere and will remain MR. & MRS. POTATO HEAD.”
Kimberly Boyd, a senior vice president at Hasbro, told The Associated Press that the intention of the brand name change was to be more inclusive and to have the characters still live within the Potato Head universe.
In that way, Hasbro is trying to expand the iconic “Potato Head” brand, while also trying not to offend the sensibilities of traditional or more conservative customers who may balk at what they see as political correctness.
The LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD praised the more inclusive branding.
“Hasbro’s decision to introduce Potato Head as a gender-neutral toy is the latest move in a larger movement towards greater diversity and inclusion in toys and media aimed at kids,” Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s chief communications officer, said in a statement. “By offering a toy that exists outside of the binary of male and female, Hasbro is helping kids to simply see toys as toys, which encourages them to be their authentic selves outside of the pressures of traditional gender norms.”
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