If you’ve been following my blog or you know me, then you know many of my Holy Gail products are produced by this company. You can ask almost any natural what is the first product they tried and I can almost guarantee 80% or more of them will tell you it was the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. When I first went natural and tried this product, it helped me fall in love with my curls. I know my love for this product and many others was part of why seeing this ad was so disheartening. If these were crap products, I wouldn’t care about the ad. But in sharing the sentiments of many others, the ad felt like a mockery of our complex relationship with our hair.
When Shea Moisture created the ad “Everybody Gets Love,” they stated the intent was to focus on how to turn hate into love. The intent was good, but the execution was poor. Apparently, the ad that was posted was only a snippet of the entire campaign. The ad featured women from different backgrounds and different hair types discussing their “struggles” with hair hate and how they overcame that to now embrace and love their hair. I know you saw those quotes around the word struggles.
The ad didn’t START off bad. It opened with a mixed girl with looser, curly hair saying how “people would put stuff in my hair!” But “as I got older, I learned how to do it and how to love it!” She’s legit….but the other ones…“I used to think I’m not supposed to be a redhead. So I died my hair platinum blonde for 7 years!” Ummm….ok. Then a blonde who exclaimed “I didn’t know what to do with it!” Girl, bye! So you honestly expect me to be sympathetic when your hair is the beauty standard in which all women are measured against? They have no clue what it feels like to have society tell you directly and indirectly that your hair is ugly, dirty, unacceptable, problematic, and unprofessional.
After the ad caused such an uproar, the company CEO, Richelieu Dennis, issued an apology. But by then, it was too late for many angry black women consumers who completely swore them off and threated to take their money elsewhere. In the days following, he appeared on a series of interviews to continue his damage control efforts and regain customer loyalty. The particular interview I listened to was his radio interview on the Breakfast Club.
He stated the ad shouldn’t have been released, because it did not go through the appropriate review process and someone at the company “dropped the ball.” But how does a company that’s been in existence for over 20 years not have a more thorough process to review and approve content before it’s released? Even a basement start-up would have a more thorough review process than that.
I believe the ad was meant to be released as-is in their attempt to capture a new audience and compete with larger brands. I understand the need for growth and sustainability in a saturated market. But one way to overcome saturation is differentiation. Remaining loyal to your core consumers and not abandoning them like many brands do during their expansion efforts will set you apart from the competition. Your core audience who built your brand shouldn’t feel like an afterthought in your growth efforts. If we brought you success, then remain loyal to us and we will likely continue driving that success.
But this recent ad doesn’t completely surprise me. Do you recall their “Break the Walls Campaign” where they were attempting to persuade companies and consumers that there no longer needed to be a segregated “Ethnic Hair Care” section? That didn’t go over well. But a discussion on that campaign could be its own separate post.
So, even though I am disappointed by the ad, I’m willing to move forward and continue to support the brand. I do love their products based on performance, quality, price point, and availability. Plus, the company is still black-owned and I do applaud their Community Commerce initiative. This initiative seeks to alleviate poverty and support female entrepreneurship in countries that source and make some of the key ingredients in their products. I believe the company has learned from this PR nightmare and will make a greater effort in the future to ensure the voice of their core audience is never lost.
So now that the dust is starting to settle, what are your feelings towards the ad and the company? Will you continue to support them?