Shea Moisture responded to accusations that they were “whitewashing.”
According to PR Newswire, the company released a Facebook ad as part of a campaign called #BreakTheWalls. It attacked stores that sell the company’s products on beauty aisles in “ethnic” sections. Their ad aimed to show that all women deal with “hair hate,” not just women of color. Yet, the ad only showed one woman of color amid a slew of white ones.
Facing severe backlash from its African-American customer base, the company released a statement admitting they made a mistake and tried to explain what they aimed to do.
The company said the goal was to tell their story and reach out “in a real way” with customers about their concerns.
“We want our community to understand that in no way did we ever intend to make anyone feel disrespected or [minimize their experience],” VP of Communications Latraviette Smith-Wilson explained. “As importantly, we want them to know that we fully acknowledge that our execution on this piece was flawed.”
She went on to say that the ad was only one of many videos that are part of interviews of their customers to show that there is no standard approach to haircare or beauty.
Late Monday, Shea Moisture posted their full statement on Facebook and Twitter accounts, candidly admitting, “Wow, okay—so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up.” They went on to say that they pulled the ad immediately because it didn’t show what they had hoped to communicate.
Social media users’ weren’t buying the apology though. Some even compared the ads to Pepsi’s controversial ad that made it seem like police violence against African-Americans could be easily solved with a can of soda.
— tori (@ToriUptown) April 24, 2017
— Mia (@miaaa_biaaa) April 25, 2017
“We operate in a real-world, real-time environment, and we don’t have the option of choosing when to turn it off,” Smith-Wilson said. “We welcome that level of dialogue, understanding, and engagement, and we’re constantly listening to our consumer community, which means we don’t shy away.”
The company’s CEO said that it wanted to improve the shopping experience and appeal to more people instead of tailoring their outreach to one subset.
“Our job is to make sure they understand that we’re still here for them,” CEO and founder Richelieu Dennis said, noting that black women have the “least amount of products in the marketplace for them.”