“I question whether there is a demand,” said secretary general Jan Bertoft.
The raspberry-flavoured novelty ice cream was just one of a new range presented by GB at the beginning of March.
According to GB, the ‘Girlie’ ice pop signals a “sense of summer”, “star status” and “a disco feeling”.
The Swedish Consumers Association however uses an entirely different word: “gender-profiling”.
“Girlie, GB’s new ice pop, is pink and has make-up inside the stick. It says a lot about what GB thinks about girls and how they should be,” said the association in a statement.
According to the consumer watchdog, Sweden does not need more products that reinforce existing prejudices surrounding young boys and girls.
“Especially with a product as neutral as ice cream,” said Jan Bertoft.
He would like to see alterations made to the product to make it less gender specific.
“They can call an ice pop ‘Girlie’ if they want, but it doesn’t have to be so clearly aimed at young girls and telling them how they should be,” said Bertoft.
GB’s marketing manager, Christoffer Schreil, considers it unfortunate that some people have viewed the ice cream as being directed solely at girls.
“It is not out intention to exclude either boys or girls as consumers of our ice cream. We target everybody.
“We think Girlie is a fun ice cream with a retro feel,” he said.
Schreil hopes that plenty of boys will buy the product but admits there have been a few complaints.
“We reply to everybody who gets in touch and tell that we certainly did not mean to reinforce or cement gender roles in any way,” he said.
GB has no plans to withdraw the product or make any alterations.
“It’s not something we have considered yet, no,” said Schreil.
It is not the first time that GB has landed in the spotlight. Two years ago its marketing campaign for liquorice ice cream Nogger Black was deemed racist by the Centre against Racism (Centrum mot Rasism).
Is it possible that GB is making a conscious attempt to get free advertising by stirring up controversy?
Absolutely not. We work with ice cream and just want it to be lots of fun. We like arouse feelings, but we absolutely do not want to aggravate anybody,” said Schreil.