Downy fabric softener has recently gone through an image change, a scent change, and now an added name change. The long standing household brand will be re-marketed onto the shelves of supermarkets with the name 'Softie' as early as August, 2010.
"You know, it's a sensitive thing, the controversy leading up to this decision, and now the decision itself" explains Corporate exec Ken Larson, who has zero downs syndrome children or relatives in his sphere. "When this company began, there were no slang terms for downs syndrome except 'retard.' Now that retard has become an inappropriate term in reference to people with downs syndrome, the term "downy" is used colloquially. We do not want our product to eventually become offensive to people when the word 'downy' is offensive one day. We don't want it to be the offensive fabric softener of future generations.
A group in Kentucky who lobbies for the equal opportunity rights of those carrying one extra chromosome is extremely put off by Downy's recent decision, so much so that they are protesting the company with threats of petition and boycott. "Are they embarrassed to be associated with Downs Syndrome?" asks Cynthia Zambrano, the aggressive leader of Stop Putting Us Down, even though she does not have downs syndrome. "It's almost more offensive that they are changing their name. They're just bringing everything more into light, whereas if they'd left the entire topic alone, nobody would even associate the fabric softener with the mental disability."
Ken Larson's rebuttal to these remarks was straightforward and blunt: "We just want to make money. I'm sorry. But it's true. We're on the hunt for profit, and with names out there like Fleecy and Snuggle, Downy just pales in comparison. Not only do people laugh at it, they think we're stupid for not noticing that our name means a downs syndrome person.
So what do people with downs syndrome think? Are they put off by this name-change fiasco? Not entirely. Mike Nordak of Clinton, OH, has had downs syndrome for 18 years. He has a job at McDonalds and he does things any normal 18 year old male does. He even does his own laundry. When asked if he's offended or put off from using Downy fabric softener, he exclaims "I don't know. I just use what my mom buys."
But is the name "Softie" really better than the name "Downy?" The young people we polled don't seem to think so. "A softie's a limp boner" says Chris Thorton of Manchester, Dickshore. "I don't even mean in like a normal unaroused state. I mean in like a failed attempt state. Like you had a boner then it went out." Ninety percent of the kids we polled laughed and said they would buy Softie as a joke, or to tote around college dormitories and laundromats in an ironic statement. "As long as it doesn't make your dick soft" says Chris. "That's what I'd worry about."
"It does not make your dick soft, and we did it on purpose" says Larson in defence of the new name. "We knew it would have this effect on young people. We knew they'd think it was funny and buy it as a joke. This was all planned out." When asked why they didn't just keep the original name of Downy for the same reason, replied Larson "Because I don't want a retarded fabric softener, okay?!! I'm done with this interview."
Interviewer: But Mr. Larson, do you want a soft dick fabric softener?
Ken Larson: Go away. Get out of my office.
Interviewer: Why did you choose the name Softie?
Ken Larson: Because! It makes your clothes soft. There's baby lamb and a bunch of other fucking ingredients in it, what do we need a fucking bear in a T-shirt on the bottle to sell this shit too? Do we need a fucking gay dancing bear who's not wearing pants?
Interviewer: Maybe with a big soft dick, yeah.
Ken Larson: Fuck off.
Interviewer: It would sell more.
Ken Larson. I said fuck off.
The release of Softie is scheduled for August 1st. We'll see if it actually makes it to the shelves.