Why, though?: Bic tried to market to tiny lady hands

Bic tried to make a pen for lady hands and got spectacularly dragged.

Last year, California made it illegal for companies to charge what’s known as a “pink tax” — a higher price for products marketed to women. Often pink in color, these products are the same as gender-neutral products or those marketed to men, yet more expensive 42% of the time.

A Black woman holds her palm to her face in exasperation and a white woman throws out her hands in confusion in front of a package of Bic for Her pens on a pink background.

Many are also downright silly — laxatives, but for girls! — but when Bic tried it, it backfired spectacularly.

For whom, exactly?

Bic launched its most iconic product, the ballpoint pen, in 1950. Since then, the French company has expanded to offer razors, lighters, and even phones.

Bic for Her debuted in 2011. The pens came in pink, purple, and pastel colors, and were supposedly designed to fit a woman’s hand. Advertisements painted them a stylish fashion accessory.

Naturally, the idea that women’s hands were too small and delicate to hold a regular pen resulted in a deluge of sarcastic reviews on Amazon and widespread ridicule.

Bic ultimately discontinued the pens, simply thanking its customers for their “honest feedback.”

What went wrong

Gendered marketing sometimes makes sense, but many products — including pens — are the same no matter who’s using them.

Bic could have simply manufactured pens in pretty colors and sold them to all genders without the “for her” bit, but instead leaned into dated stereotypes ripe for mockery.

It also failed to learn from its mistake. In 2015, Bic South Africa released a cringey advertisement that read, “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss,” for Women’s Day.

The company later deleted the ad and apologized, saying it was meant in “the most empowering way possible.” It also deleted that post and apologized again.

Bic, you make pens. Just chill.

And now: Please enjoy this subreddit for pointlessly gendered items.

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