What in the PR Disaster
On this week’s episode of “PR Implosion,” natural hair care brand SheaMoisture steps up to the plate to take a swing at making the biggest marketing flop. They told Pepsi to hold their Curling Gel Souffle.
In an attempt to show that their products are for everyone, they forgot to include one thing; representation from their home base audience.
I’m not going to describe the commercial to you. I’ll let you view it on your own. Take a look and then come back to me.
Now, let me dive into all of my issues with this.
SheaMoisture was started by a Black woman, Sofi Tucker, in Sierra Leone. The widowed mother of 4 quite literally carried this business on her back. Since these humble beginnings in 1912, Shea Moisture has branched further from God’s light.
You may remember when Sundial, owners of SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage, made headlines in 2015 when Bain Capital LLC became a minority investor in the company. If anyone took 10th grade Literature Arts, you knew this was hella foreshadowing!
Fast forward to present day, SheaMoisture releases this commercial that misses its target demographic. Yes, having unprocessed hair grow out of your hair means you have natural hair but let’s be honest, you know good and well these products were initially marketed toward Black women with kinkier hair textures. SheaMoisture wouldn’t be anywhere without the millions of dollars Black women spent on their products. According to recent studies, Black women alone spend $7.5 BILLION annually on beauty products. Yet, you only feature one Black woman’s story.
I’m not trying to diminish the stories of the white women featured in the commercial. I’m sure they have experienced some form of teasing for having red hair but they’ve never been turned down for jobs because of their natural hair. They haven’t been fired for wearing their natural hair like Rhonda Lee. There haven’t been Supreme Court cases ruling in favor of people firing them for their red hair. Society is literally telling Black men and women that our hair is unacceptable. SheaMoisture was on the right track with their marketing when they released the commercials about breaking beauty standards and diversifying the beauty aisle. Maybe the person who started the #BreakTheWalls campaign missed the meeting for this latest ad.
As a result of this recent backlash, SheaMoisture has pulled the ad and issued this apology.
SheaMoisture, Black women aren’t trying to keep you from your coin. We want you to succeed and spread your brand to all demographics but don’t let your quest for diversity turn into erasure of your day ones. Don’t lose sight of why Sofi started this company in 1912 and why you all began the #BreakTheWalls campaign. Now I won’t put all of the blame on you all. I’ll throw a little shade to the editors of the video and the entire post production team as well.
I still believe in SheaMoisture and the message behind this campaign. I think the company can bounce back from this hiccup. But Shea, here are some takeaways from this.
1. Hire some more diverse people. I don’t mean add a bunch of black people to your team but people who aren’t focused on the sales but have different perspectives and thought processes. Hire someone that will tell you when you’re wrong.
2. Get a steady focus group. Now this group can have a bunch of Black women in it. You need a focus group with your core audience, another with the audience you’re trying to tap into and one more with a mixture of the two. Run your commercials by all three groups.