Do Brands Have to Sell Out to Sell More? Shea Moisture’s Ad Stirs Controversy

Shea Moisture Misses the Mark

Let’s just say that Shea Moisture has missed the mark, or the Markeisha, in their latest advertisement (shown above) that went downhill at a rapid speed.  Shea Moisture, a hair company that has always focused on it’s African-American consumers when designing their products, recently released an advertisement that was missing a significant demographic, black women with kinky/coily hair.  The majority of the women in the commercial were white women “struggling” with what to do with their hair.

Millions of black women have expressed outrage and have even compared this  advertisement to the liking of the most recent Pepsi backlash.


The company has since released an apology :

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. You guys know that we have always stood for inclusion in beauty and have always fought for our community and given them credit for not just building our business but for shifting the beauty landscape. So, the feedback we are seeing here brings to light a very important point. 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 journey is minimized in any way. We are keenly aware of the journey that WOC face – and our work will continue to serve as the inspiration for work like the Perception Institute’s Good Hair Study/Implicit Association Test that suggests that a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their textured or natural hair. So, you’re right. We are different – and we should know better. Thank you all, as always, for the honest and candid feedback. We hear you. We’re listening. We appreciate you. We count on you. And we’re always here for you. Thank you, #SheaFam, for being there for us, even when we make mistakes. Here’s to growing and building together…

A post shared by SheaMoisture (@sheamoisture) on


This is not the first time a company has received backlash for not recognizing or remembering who their targeted audience is and who is actually responsible for their success.  Back in 2014, Carol’s daughter received tons of backlash when they sold the company to L’oreal, a French cosmetics company, but also the world’s largest.  This brings us to the question of are natural hair care companies selling out to sell?

  Are natural hair care companies selling out to sell?

The transition for apparently becoming an “all-inclusive” brand should have been smoother, as Shea Moisture’s message of “break free from hair hate” is definitely universal and positive.  However, there is nothing wrong with expanding your market to new consumers.

Companies will always buy, sell, trade, and expand.  It’s the nature of the beast.  However, recognizing who was with you from the start and who has contributed to your success is a must.  If you are going to grow you have to always keep your base in mind.

I’m sure Shea Moisture will recover from this mishap and keep this in mind for future advertisements.




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Joi is a full time marketing executive , full time mom, and lifestyle blogger. Joi is a native Detroiter based in Atlanta. Joi's unique writing skills have been published by various online magazines and she is the ultimate super mom, balancing woman and motherhood!



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