Black-owned hair company Shea Moisture can be added to the list of companies who have missed the mark when it comes to advertising. They have recently come under fire after releasing a ‘tone deaf’ ad catering to many who were not perceived as the target audience.
Earlier last month, black-owned natural hair and beauty line Shea Moisture launched their #BreakTheWalls campaign. It targeted the segregation of beauty and hair aisles. Black hair products are usually put in the ‘ethnic’ section of stores, separated from more mainstream brands.
It has been a long journey for Shea Moisture to get their products to reach the public. It has taken 16 years for the brand to do it but now the company is a respected brand used by many women, promoted by bloggers and enjoyed by all types of people.
Last month, Shea Moisture released one of its newest video advertisement campaigns. The advert showed three women talking about loving their hair and dealing with ‘hair hate’. One of the women appeared to be biracial while the other two were Caucasian. The race of the women that appeared in the advert angered black customers who took to Twitter to express their views. There were no black women at all in the advert, which was unusual. Later the company released an advert featuring black women, but by this time the damage was already done.
In early April, after receiving some backlash, Shea Moisture released a statement via Facebook. It stated, “We’ve never believed that one size fits all, especially for hair and skin needs, and today is no different. We’re proud to now self-manufacture more than 150 different hair care products to serve our community’s varying needs with specific formulations made for the individual, not the generalisation or the stereotype. We do not believe that we should accept or adopt the thinking that has made it possible and easier for others to put any of us in a box”. A couple of days later, after receiving more backlash and letters from consumers, they issued an apology, stating they would be pulling the ad.
The reason why the advert caused so much anger was because the black consumers felt like they were being erased. Shea Moisture is a black-owned business that has long catered to black hair types, whilst most other hair companies did not. Black hair has previously not been acknowledged by brands and therefore it has been relatively hard for some to care for what grows out of their heads. Shea Moisture was refreshingly filling this gap and rising alongside a number of other brands focusing on afro hair types. This advertisement showed the brand sadly moving away from this trajectory when there are only a handful of these brands catering to black hair types as it is.
Words: Seyi Adejori
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