About a week ago, Shea Moisture, a company that specializes in organic hair, beauty and body products designed to meet the hair and skincare needs of multicultural consumers across the diaspora who traditionally have been ignored by mass market companies, released an ad on Facebook focused on “Hair Hate,” that immediately caused a firestorm of controversy.
SheaMoisture is CANCELLED pic.twitter.com/T4Dru1JgAq
— NANA JIBRIL 🌙🏳️🌈 (@girlswithtoys) April 24, 2017
Seems innocent enough, right? Eh, not quite. There are a number of things wrong with this particular ad:
- Shea Moisture’s core consumer for 20+ years has been Black women. There were zero visible Black women in this advertisement.
- The ad is focused on hair hate and exclusively features women with hair textures (and if we’re being all the way honest, complexions) that in our society and around the world are actually thee most popular and celebrated textures.
- The ad did not feature women with coarse, kinky or short hair; all attributes that are not only hated but shunned in society and women with these textures are often punished or pressured at school, in the workplace, in the military or in social situations to adapt a more quote unquote presentable look; which normally translates to straight hair.
As a result, Black women, who have supported Shea Moisture from day one were rightfully outraged about what they perceived as being ‘erased’ from Shea Moisture’s consumer-facing messaging. So, they did what any consumer in 2017 does when they’re upset at a company or institution; they took to social media to voice their feelings.
In this episode, I talk about what happened in the immediate hours and days after the ad was released, dispel some popular myths about the company for context and provide 10 tips for Shea Moisture and any other brand, beauty or otherwise, on how to best market their consumer products to diverse audiences.
Those tips include:
- Using Images and Visuals that Reflect and Represent the Audience You Want to Reach
- Not Using Hair Texture or Any Other ‘Thing’ as a Loophole to Avoid or Ignore Cultural Sensitivities
- Communicating Through Internal Discomfort
- Directly Engaging and Interacting with the Community
- Learning the Lingo While Staying Authentic
- Quickly Fess Up to Mistakes (read Shea Moisture’s apology)…and more.
Listen to Episode 37: