• 04.06.16

SheaMoisture Brings “Ethnic” Empowerment To The Beauty Aisle

The new “Break the Walls” campaign aims to redefine traditional personal care categories.

SheaMoisture Brings “Ethnic” Empowerment To The Beauty Aisle

Walk into any pharmacy or grocery store and look for the beauty aisle. Chances are you’ll see a lot of hair care and beauty products with pictures of blond, brown, and red hair. If you don’t quite fit into that dynamic, thanks to hair that’s wavy, curly, kinky, or coily, you’ll likely have to search for a small corner marked “ethnic” or something similar. With a new campaign, SheaMoisture is looking to break down these segmented categories and have all the beauty products displayed together.


“Break the Walls,” created by agency Droga5, explores the divisive side of beauty and aims to make the shopping experience more inclusive. The ad draws attention to the fact that the “ethnic” section often resides outside the “beauty” aisle and highlights its effect on the self-confidence and self-image of its consumers.

Droga5 senior art director Emmie Nostitz says SheaMoisture asked the agency to address the needs of women who have traditionally been ignored and underserved by the beauty industry, and highlight how SheaMoisture is creating a more inclusive way to view beauty.

“We decided to go right at the issue and create a film that shows the destruction of the archaic walls that have, until now, divided women in the beauty category,” says Nostitz. “Shooting in a real beauty aisle was important, because we knew we needed to tell a story that was relatable to the women who live this every day. We worked to show the state of the industry by showing how it currently looks: There’s a big, bright, manicured beauty aisle contrasted against a smaller, poorly stocked ethnic section.”

The agency had written a script for the ad, but changed tack after talking to its cast of natural hair social influencers, actresses, and social community members. “We realized their personal stories of being directed to shop in a separate, lesser-resourced aisle were much more powerful than anything we could script,” says Nostitz. “As a result, the brand was able to tell this story through the voices of the women who are living it.”

Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of SheaMoisture parent Sundial, says to question why these walls are still here is the first real step to breaking them down. “It’s been an imperative for the brand since its inception–even taking 16 years for the brand to come to retail shelves because of our refusal to conform to traditional merchandising segmentation, and our efforts to ensure that women who had been underserved by the beauty industry had ample access to an assortment of products to meet their lifestyle needs.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.