Figs is trying to tamp down the ongoing upset over a promotional video being decried by medical professionals as sexist and misogynistic.
The Los Angeles brand, which makes and sells comfort scrubs and quality medical apparel, and more recently activewear and sneakers, came out with a second apology for the promotional video that’s been removed. It showed a female model acting as a medical professional reading “Medical Terminology for Dummies” upside down. Figs has been growing fast since its 2013 founding, and the venture-backed company is reportedly pulling in more than $100 million in annual revenue.
With hundreds of doctors and medical professionals calling out the ad as demeaning and reinforcing negative stereotypes of women doctors and nurses, hailed as “heroes” during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Figs posted a short apology on Tuesday. But that seemed to only incense the “Medical Twitter” community further. Now the company has come out with more specific efforts at atonement.
In a lengthy statement posted to social media, Figs admitted the video was “disparaging to women in health care” and “should have never been published.”
How it was published in the first place was not really addressed, although Figs has put out many similar-looking promotional videos. Now the brand intends to hire “advisers from the health-care community with a variety of skill sets and specialties to ensure Figs is responsibly and respectfully bringing these professions to life.”
The company said it will have a health-care professional “present at every shoot to weigh in on creative and styling decisions” and that there will be a “more robust approval process” for its brand content.
Beyond that, Figs will be requiring educational training for its employees and said it is donating $100,000 to the American Osteopathic Association. A doctor of osteopathic medicine, or DO, receives all the training of a typical medical doctor, or MD, receives. The main difference is a DO is trained in a “whole body” approach with some holistic training as well.
But Figs’ donation to the AOA stuck out to many users on Twitter, as Dr. Kevin Klauer, chief executive officer of the AOA, apparently tweeted about the Figs video controversy on Tuesday, threatening the company with a defamation lawsuit “on behalf of our members and profession.”
Klauer’s tweet has since been deleted, but a screenshot of it was posted on Twitter by a doctor, in response to Figs’ second apology. On Wednesday evening, Klauer tweeted that Figs’ leadership was “responsive, accountable and quick to mobilize resources to correct this unfortunate mishap” and he thanked it for the donation.
Many doctors and medical professionals disagreed. They noted that the more detailed apology came only after the AOA threatened a lawsuit. Figs admitted in its statement that leadership had spoken to Klauer.
“Don’t pretend this came from the goodness of your hearts,” one doctor wrote.
This is what it took. Don’t pretend this came from the goodness of your hearts. We heard your first “apology”. We won’t forget this, we have wallets and know how to use them. pic.twitter.com/kPRQCG8S3x
— Sneaker Doc (@enginerdmd) October 14, 2020
Another simply replied, “Too little, too late.”
And still more doctors commented with their issues around other bits of marketing Figs has been relying on. One woman, a neurologist, made a supercut of Figs videos showing models in their scrubs dancing, sometimes mock-seductively, jumping on trampolines, bunny hopping down stairs and eating bananas.
“Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find equivalent clips of their male models,” she wrote.
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