redpepper Reacts: FIGS ad

The scrubs brand released an ad that clearly missed the mark, and our experts weighed in on what went wrong.

Popular scrubs brand, FIGS has recently received a lot of flack from the medical community following its most recent ad showing a female doctor of osteopathic medicine, or D.O, reading a book titled ‘Medical Terminology for Dummies’ upside down. The since-deleted video has made headlines for its insensitive and misogynistic representation of female physicians and D.O’s.  We decided to do a little crowdsourcing on how exactly this might’ve happened and what we think went wrong.

When creating this ad, FIGS either didn't consider the voice of the consumer or didn't have a deep understanding of their consumers. This ad not only insults women, but osteopathic doctors, who (according to a quick web search) are sometimes respected less than an MD. It shows us the biases that exist in the healthcare world - toward gender and field of practice. And that this kind of bias can exist even in a company that seems to be diverse, such as FIGS which was founded by two women. This is an example of why it's important for companies to be committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels within their company and their consumer community, as well as do the work to truly understand the voice and values of their customers.

Cat Garnett, Sr. Insights Strategist

With brand faux-pas this big, I’m always intrigued at how competitors react. FIGS not only had to deal with the public backlash, but they also left a wide-open opportunity for the competition to swoop in and band together with their audience. I thought BeneFIT’s response was top notch—sure, they clearly capitalized on their opponent’s mistake, but they did so in a way that focused on lifting back up the audience that FIGS had so carelessly knocked down.

Jesse Spear, Marketing Manager

I watched the video before reading about the controversy, and had a different and possibly more sexist take on it—the only reason for a woman to be associated with the medical field is to find a “rich doctor husband.” So knowing the terminology is not as important as a sexy wiggle and how your butt looks in your scrubs—that is what will get you to “I DO.” Either interpretation, it shows a lack of understanding of their audience and, well, what century we are in.

Karla Jackson, Associate Creative Director 

The ad is insensitive and almost seems careless. I’m curious to know the campaign strategy and mission behind this ad. We all know that it went through many levels of people, both male and female, and that originally there was meaning behind the “why” of the campaign. Now whether that was to make light of the current healthcare climate or to put a comedic twist on something—either way they missed the mark. I want to assume that the idea came from somewhere genuine but I just can't see the vision looking at the end result.

Meredith Queen, Sales Manager

My first reaction was to evaluate the men in the decision making room, but unfortunately their VP of marketing is a woman. In an attempt to feel more approachable and make a funny and lighthearted campaign amidst the heaviness of the world, they really just missed the mark. It’s disappointing coming from a brand that literally exploded from utilizing (mostly) young women on social media who are in the medical field and clearly extremely accomplished and intelligent ladies. This was a brand I had a lot of admiration for because of all of the real people they attach to their marketing, but they really botched it by okay-ing this one through to market and showed us they don’t really get their audience.

Riley Collins, Junior Content Producer

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