An apology from the CEO of BioRepublic + a boycott

4:16 PM

On Friday one of my readers shared with me a meme posted on the BioRepublic Skincare Instagram page that was highly offensive and insensitive towards those along with their families who struggle and suffer from a mental illness. Unfortunately the CEO of the company, Paolo Mentonelli, did not handle the initial contact with me very professionally (and I admit my reaction to him via PM was also unprofessional) which resulted in backlash from potential customers who saw the meme. Since Friday he has made two apologies on their company Facebook page and while the first felt insincere the one made today was sincere. He has also reached out to me on my blog to apologize which I have accepted.

Hi Zadie,

Please accept my deepest apologies for our offensive and disgusting post as well as the foolish, rash, and arrogant way that I handled your justified outrage over this topic. I hope you can find it in you to forgive us and help us as we learn from our mistake. While we can't afford to donate $5,000 to NAMI, we will donate all proceeds from online sales over the next 7days to NAMI. I honestly believe in this cause and I hope that we can work together to raise awareness, support, and funds for the mental health community. I realize this may be "too little, too late" but please accept this as a sincere and heartfelt attempt to amend our wrongs.


http://www.biorepublic.com/blogs/news/57193347-mental-illness-is-not-a-joke

Sincerely,

Paolo Mentonelli

CEO & Founder
BioRepublic SkinCare
I am a forgiving person and I do think this time around he is being sincere. My reply to him:
I do accept your apology however just keep in mind that your actions and words affected a great many people other than myself. The stigma of mental illness leads to people being ridiculed and/or not believed. Looking at the meme itself with the stock photo your company chose it actually would have lent itself to being a fantastic mental health awareness campaign with more appropriate hashtags however as we know the original hashtags used were in poor taste.

I do thank you for reaching out to NAMI and any donation your company makes is a wonderful gesture. I'm aware $5,000 for a start up is hard but I will say it doesn't have to be at one time and can be done over the course of a year or donating a portion of sales (as you're doing now). But honestly it really wasn't about the money but rather more about awareness that so many people suffer silently from various mental illnesses not just bipolar disorders but anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, Autism, Asperger, oppositional defiant disorders, postpartum depression, to more dangerous issues such as psychosis and sociopathic tendencies. Many people do seek treatment but unfortunately many do not, cannot or will not for a plethora of reasons; some will live amazing lives but unfortunately too many, and even one is too many, will live such short destructive lives that may have been preventable.

We, as a society, can be cruel and unthinking with comments made and businesses need to remember that things that some might find funny may alienate or offend others. It's a hard lesson to learn, especially for a business owner and it takes a lot of guts to realize when you're wrong and make a truly sincere apology which again I gladly accept.
As funny as some memes are sometimes we (as a society) can forget how it may affect others. In this case the meme was very hurtful to those who struggle with a mental illness or who has a family member who struggles with it. I do think he learned his lesson and I hope in the future he and other business owners remember that it might seem funny to you but it may be very hurtful to others. Even words written in fun can have serious consequences and repercussions.

Again, thank you Paolo Mentonelli for the apology.

EDIT: Since his 2nd apology someone emailed me in regards to boycotting his company. Personally even after his apology, which I accepted, I personally would not purchase his company's products. Here's the email and from here you can make the decision to boycott BioRepublic or not.


This email may seem random, but we feel like you have the right to know the truth behind BioRepublic Skincare. We're not sending you this to start more drama, but we have a couple of lies to address that the CEO told you about, regarding their little mishap on Instagram Friday. 

Just a couple of points: 

-The "South American Intern" was never reprimanded. In fact, that intern still does not understand the ignorance of their post--they still think it's funny. 

-  When you reposted the biorepublic post, you were not distributing their intellectual property without their consent. The company googled for that image and edited it—hence the misspelling from the intern “illnes”. In fact, that image is owned by travelle.co.

-When the CEO originally said he wasn’t going to make any kind of donation…he meant it. For example, $2000 was never donated to Dress For Success. BioRepublic literally only gave DFS Atlanta a couple of sheet masks. No money was donated. To confirm, you can even call DFS Atlanta to confirm this: (404) 589-1177
-Lastly, you need to know about the partner for BioRepublic who oversees all actions for the company: Justin Hong. Justin also owns another business called Diamax Industries that was sued for $20 million because they were exposing industrial workers to toxic dust

I just want you to be aware that not everything is what it seems...do not trust the THREE apologies their CEO attempted to make. They are not heartfelt. If you're going to donate to a program that aids mental illness, just don't do it through BioRepublic. They turned this around to get sales and that just isn't right. 

Thank you for reading this. Just like you're passionate about helping others, we're passionate about everybody knowing the truth. 

If you have follow up questions, please let me know. 

Thanks. 

@boycottbiorepublic

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