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Shea Moisture: “We really f-d this one up”

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Shea Moisture pulled their recent ad off of social media when it received backlash from its loyal customers. The intended message was, “Break Free from Hair Hate”, but people found the ad insensitive and tone-deaf. Shea Moisture isn’t the only company to receive backlash for their ad in the past couple of weeks; this ad comes just after Pepsi pulled their tone-deaf commercial after they were accused of using the Black Lives Matter movement to sell their soda.

Shea Moisture’s following goes deep into the black community, where their biggest customer base lies. The ad they were promoting included two white women, a blonde and a redhead. Many people saw it as whitewashing the brand. According to the CEO of Shea Moisture, it was developed in partnership with VaynerMedia.

Richelieu Dennis, the company’s founder and CEO, says that women of color will continue to be the company’s focus. Dennis started the company to “address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies”. This ad was one of their attempts to grow their customer base.

“There are customers that are also wanting natural products, and we’re creating products for every hair type” – Richelieu Dennis

However, after all the backlash received on Social Media, the ad was pulled. This is just another demonstration of how powerful consumer’s voices have become, and how powerful of a tool Social Media is today.

Here was their response on their social media:

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…

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Chantal Wong

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