Another week, another well-established company completely mucking up what they hoped would be a routine advertising rollout. This time, in the wake of Pepsi, it’s Shea Moisture coming under fire for a decidedly tone deaf ad. In the spot, which some customers are more upset about than others, two white women and one black women smile and touch their hair in a normal “hey this is a great hair commercial way!” but it doesn’t pan out as normally as any other hair commercial. The latter, who is the target consumer that the company was specifically founded for, talks in the spot about how she was bullied because of her natural hair.
Which would be a great message in line with the company’s long-time values if it weren’t for the other half of the commercial, where the white women confess to to disliking their hair sometimes because of limpness or drab color. The message — to “break free from hair hate” — would be an uplifting tag line if it didn’t implicitly equate being bullied because of natural hair with disliking your hair because of a lack of volume. Devoted customers of the brand, suffice to say, were not happy about that comparison.
To Shea’s credit, they pulled the ad and released a heartfelt apology to their customers and those upset by the video. Along with an Instagram photo labeled “Real Talk” Shea wrote,
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.
The extensive statement went on to say,
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.
Twitter wasn’t absolutely wasn’t having it for the most part, with even the infamous Rachel Dolezal invoked in one reaction.
Not everyone was so livid though, calling out others for being mad online just because.
This will all blow over in due time, but it’s as good a reminder as any that a company should never forget who makes up their base.