• 04.24.17

Shea Moisture Just Made A Lot Of Its Consumers Very Upset

The brand’s newest ad is being criticized for not including its biggest fans.

Shea Moisture Just Made A Lot Of Its Consumers Very Upset

Today, you may have been surprised to see Shea Moisture trending on Twitter. It’s a popular brand with a strong following, but nowadays when a brand is trending, there’s reason to believe something else is up. Right, United and Pepsi?


The brand’s newest commercial features a few women talking about their struggles with self-confidence as it relates to their hair. But with three out of the four women being white, the controversy is over the one woman missing from the conversation.

Shea Moisture is a product traditionally used by African-American women, and in an effort to perhaps expand its consumer base, the spot seems to have forgotten its foundation. Last year, the brand worked with agency Droga5 on its first TV commercial, a thoughtful look at segregation in the beauty aisle.


A Droga5 spokesperson confirmed the agency did not work on this new spot.

Some of the criticism so far has blamed the brand’s selling a stake in the company to Bain Capital Private Equity for diluting its cultural awareness. But that was in 2015, almost a year before “Break The Walls” was launched. So how do you go from so insightful to tone deaf? That’s the question both consumers and other brands will be asking, while underlining the importance of, first and foremost, knowing–and listening to–your audience.

Related: How Sundial Brands CEO Richelieu Dennis Is Challenging Segregation In The Beauty Aisle

Even if you want to expand your consumer base, you cannot ignore or piss off your base, the people who form the foundation of your very brand. Without that, the rest crumbles. Here, Shea Moisture has unnecessarily created a controversy. An unforced error.

I’ve contacted Shea Moisture’s parent company Sundial Brands for comment, but haven’t heard back yet.

About the author

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