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Shea Moisture’s customer backlash was caused by poor brand management, not bad advertising

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Natural beauty brand Shea Moisture was forced to apologize after a new ad campaign sparked a social media backlash among some of the company’s customers.

But this backlash wasn’t really the result of a bad ad.

The backstory

Shea Moisture was founded by Liberians Nyema Tubman and Richelieu Dennis, who came to the US as refugees. They built a business reportedly valued at $700m by developing natural beauty products that cater to a market historically underserved by large beauty brands – women of color.

But with outside investment from Bain Capital and skyrocketing consumer interest in natural beauty products, Shea Moisture’s parent company Sundial Brands is betting that there is a bigger market for Shea Moisture’s products.

With that in mind, the company recently unveiled a 60-second ad developed by agency VaynerMedia as part of its #EverybodyGetsLove marketing campaign. The ad features a black woman, but it also features a blonde woman and two redheads. That did not sit well with some Shea Moisture customers who felt that the ad was a sign the company is moving away from the market segment that made it what it is today.

SheaMoisture is CANCELLED pic.twitter.com/T4Dru1JgAq

— NANA JIBRIL(@girlswithtoys) April 24, 2017

Black women have supported and gave free press to Shea Moisture for YEARS. And then they have a “hair hate” commercial with white women?

— no. (@DatGirl_ICEY) April 24, 2017

On Facebook, the company’s Page has been inundated with more than 7,000 one-star reviews.

The backlash was fast and big enough that the company quickly pulled its ad and Richelieu Dennis, Shea Moisture’s founder and the CEO of Sundial Brands, took to social media to apologize. “Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up,” he wrote. “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.”

He further stated, “While this campaign included several different videos showing different ethnicities and hair types to demonstrate the breadth and depth of each individual’s hair journey, 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…

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