Internet trolls have now declared Shea Moisture as #canceled.
The personal care company is now issuing an apology after the company’s key demographic, African-American wome, rejected its new ad campaign.
The 60-second snippet produced by VaynerMedia sparked outrage on social media.
The ad was part of the company’s #EverybodyGetsLove campaign. It features a series of women talking about how Shea Moisture products delievered them from “hair hate”–or at least that’s what the brand wanted the public to take it.
Since 1912, the brand has been “a better way to beautiful.”
Many were taken aback to see only one African-American woman was featured in the advertisement.
The ad also featured a blonde, two redheads and a black woman with a curly hair texture.
Many black women with all hair types such as curly, kingky and tightly coiled tresses took to social media with the hashtag #AllHairMatters to show they were the loyal customers who supported the brand from the beginning.
Shea Moisture pulled the Facebook post and wrote, “Wow, okay- so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up.”
Given the discrimination that black woman often face when it comes to hair and beauty standards, the disproportionate number of white voices speaking out in the ad about the sensitive topic of “hair hate” was called out on social media as whitewashing, a marketing ploy, and a rejection of black women, according to NBC News.
“This was not our intent. And I understand how that feels to them,” said Sundial Brands CEO and founder Richelieu Dennis. “While the campaign is heavily representative of women of color, we didn’t explain to the community what the larger campaign is about, which is about women’s hair challenges.”
Vayner Media has not commented publicly on the controversy.
Bloggers, including Marie Denee, spoke out about the campaign.
Denee told Adweek, that the backlash wasn’t because the ad featured Caucasian women. It was because the brand’s longtime customers, who were mostly African-American women, felt dismissed.
As Denee put it, an ideal campaign would have featured a variety of women in all the spots rather than creating one clearly aimed at a white audience. She specifically referenced a recent Pantene ad, which celebrated black women and said “the climate was very unfavorable” to release such a campaign at a time when both Shea Moisture and Carol’s Daughter have been accused of “whitewashing.”
The company is now playing cleanup, the marketing team has even contacted some people directly on social media.
“Shea Moistures DM to me.. where is the personal attack? why just message me? THE ENTIRE USA is confused by your ads and not just black folks,” @RStewartJewelry tweeted.
“@RStewartJewelry @LifeByDesi They messaged me too. I wasn’t impressed. One of them thought that ad was fine and they need to be FIRED,” @arshajones responded.
Dennis, CEO of Shea Moisture parent company Sundial Brands, talked to Fast Company about what he’s learned from the experience.
“The people who are unhappy here aren’t necessarily saying they don’t like white women,” Dennis said. “What they are saying is, for decades they’ve been underserved and white women have plenty of products on the shelves and advertising aimed at them, and that we should keep our focus on our audience, and not lose that focus just because we’re broadening our audience.”