‘We Really F-ed This One Up’: The Mistakes Shea Moisture and Pepsi Could Have Avoided

Shea Moisture pulled its latest ad “Everybody Gets Love” after receiving heavy criticism on social media for excluding the customers who supported them since day one.

For years African-American women used Shea Moisture simply because it was the one of few brands that catered to their hair. The black-owned business founded in Harlem in 1991 has prided itself in meeting the needs of its customers and connecting with the black community. However, the brand has decided to broaden its audience and cater to women of other ethnicities and hair types, and it was shown in its latest ad.

On Monday (April 24), the company released its “Everybody Gets Love” ad, a part one of a video series that featured women talking about the “hair hate” they received and eventually learning to embrace and love their hair thanks to the Shea Moisture hair products. The video first starts with a black woman talking about being bullied for her natural hair, but then shifted to white women talking about the hardships they had with their hair, with one of the women saying, “I don’t know what to do with it.”

Many of Shea Moisture’s loyal customers – mainly women of color – felt betrayed after the release of the controversial ad, stating that the company not only turned its back on the community that supported them, but compared the issues women with natural hair have to women who don’t have to worry about “hair hate” at all.

Not long after the ad was released, Shea Moisture issued an apology on Facebook to its customers.

“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 flub comes a few weeks after Pepsi removed a controversial ad that mocks the Black Lives Matter protest. The commercial shows Kendall Jenner leaving a photoshoot to join a protest and restoring peace by handing an officer a can of Pepsi. The ad only lasted two days and was followed with an apology from Pepsi, stating the ad was “trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.”

A seasoned marketing expert, speaking on the condition of anonymity, lamented that many of Shea Moisture’s issues could’ve been avoided. Case in point, if they had tapped an African-American focused ad agency to handle their creative work and media strategies, the final product would have been something the base demographic could have resonated more easily with. “It’s fine that Shea Moisture wanted to expand to general markets, but you can’t slap your core customer base in the face while doing so… an agency specializing in multicultural marketing as their core business would’ve caught the misstep before the spot ever saw the light of day….the spot wouldn’t have even been produced.”

Our source ended with, “The best thing about multicultural ad agencies is that they can excel with general market advertising work because they’re always thinking about cultural perceptions and implications for everything they do… I foresee that a lot of marketers will start leaning on multicultural shops to avoid these mistakes.”

Photo Credit: Screenshot/YouTube