Not long after the Pepsi commercial debacle, Shea Moisture also found themselves in hot water with consumers. The personal care and beauty products company removed their latest ad campaign after a social media uproar. The family owned business, founded by Liberian refugees Richelieu Dennis, Nyema Tubman and Mary Dennis, targeted their brand to the African-American demographic and more specifically to women.
The newest ad depicts women of different ethnicities and hair textures in an attempt at diversity inclusion that was met with their initial base feeling like they were abandoned. The commercial used the “hair hate” theme as a universal appeal and the reception was overall not good. Many argued that their ads a year ago reflected the customer they wanted to reach, African-Americans, and now the new ads are catering to everyone but them.
It didn’t take long for Shea Moisture to release a statement apologizing and as a show of their remorse they removed the ad entirely.
“Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up. Please know that our intention was not – and would never be – to disrespect our community, and as such, we are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intended to communicate. You guys know that we have always stood for inclusion in beauty and have always fought for our community and given them credit for not just building our business but for shifting the beauty landscape. So, the feedback we are seeing here brings to light a very important point. While this campaign included several different videos showing different ethnicities and hair types to demonstrate the breadth and depth of each individual’s hair journey, we must absolutely ensure moving forward that our community is well-represented in each one so that the women who have led this movement never feel that their hair journey is minimized in any way. We are keenly aware of the journey that WOC face – and our work will continue to serve as the inspiration for work like the Perception Institute’s Good Hair Study/Implicit Association Test that suggests that a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their textured or natural hair. So, you’re right. We are different – and we should know better. Thank you all, as always, for the honest and candid feedback. We hear you. We’re listening. We appreciate you. We count on you. And we’re always here for you. Thank you, #SheaFam, for being there for us, even when we make mistakes. Here’s to growing and building together…”
One could argue they were trying to enhance the brand of the organization, while the masses clearly received it as marketing sensitivity. One could argue that those offended were being sensitive and that business is about making money. As someone that does not use their products, not for any reason by the way, I feel compelled to say I was not offended and that there are so many other things going on in the world that we can discuss. Shea Moisture apologized and they’re going back to the drawing board with their advertising strategies.