SheaMoisture Apologizes for, Pulls Controversial Ad: 'We Really F--ked This One Up'
SheaMoisture is the latest company to apologize after landing in hot water over a controversial ad.
In a new campaign posted Monday, the hair and skincare company featured three women, one black and two white, embracing their natural hair. While the ad was presented as upbeat, SheaMoisture’s traditionally black customer base took issue over a lack of representation of different hair types and textures, as well as apparent abandonment of their traditionally loyal customers, mocking the brand for what was being called an “#allhairmatters” approach and ignoring their loyal demographic.
People noted that the discrimination black women face when wearing their hair naturally is greater than the discrimination of someone with red hair. There have been documented cases in which workplaces have banned certain natural hairstyles. In 2014, the military rolled back restrictions that banned popular black hairstyles.
The ad also showed the black woman speaking about being bullied as a child, saying, “people would throw stuff at my hair.” The two other women spoke about “not knowing what do with” her hair or choosing to dye her hair another color.
Even fans of the brand took issue with what they saw as the company moving away from its original base. SheaMoisture was founded by Sofi Tucker in 1912, and was created as a product made by a black woman with black women’s hair care needs in mind.
However, some also said they felt the brand was not wrong for looking to expand its market, which is what Sundial Brands chairperson Richelieu Dennis tells NBC BLK they were hoping to do but executed badly. “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,” he says. “We have to grow the business … The competition that we now see puts businesses like ours at risk.”
SheaMoisture has since pulled the commercial and issued an apology, saying: “Wow – we really f—ed this one up! Please know that our intent was not, & would never be, to disrespect our community.”
In a longer statement posted to the brand’s Facebook, reps wrote, “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 [women of color] face.”