Bad press is still press is something I find myself saying a lot recently. Specifically for the point of this article though, it’s because it’s become a marketing tool in consumer ads. Advertisements of late have taken to provoking the public for a response, with anything from commercializing social upset to white-washing brands in marketing attempts. The online upset that follows a negative, tone-deaf ad is all that’s seen across social media for days at a time in what I like to call a modified Warhol moment, you know his 15 min. of fame quote? Yeah, that.
Some recent ads have left many a consumer scratching their heads wondering how the ad made it all the way from the board room to production without any opposition. From Pepsi & their soda-saving protests to Nivea with its ‘white is purity’ agenda, Shea Moisture decided to join the “bad press is still press” bandwagon with their most recent commercial series entitled, “Hair Hate is Real,” following their #BreakTheWalls campaign (Mini-background breakdown on Shea Moisture: it’s a hair & skin care line which in its origin catered to the kinky hair types & the black girls who grow it because products for curly-kinks were non-existent/non-effective. Fast-forward to product expansion & share owners, the brand & product ingredients have since been modified to include all hair types to avoid exclusion. . . Insert all ironic/sarcastic captions here).
The ad features a presumably biracial woman with loose curls & three white women, one with straight blond hair & two straight-tressed redheads, discussing their hair hate/hassles & their Shea Moisture solutions. View it here: Shea Moisture Ad
The problem though was one of the missing women; the main target consumer of Shea Moisture products mind you. The brand neglected to include the brown-skinned kinky-curly woman in their “all-inclusive ad.” The Asian community wasn’t represented either, but I digress. The brand was developed by & for women with kinky-curls. The same women who have presumably invested plenty-a-coin on the product, not to mention volunteering free press which lead to the product’s expansion in the first place, was omitted from the commercial- save the last 2 seconds of the ad. Big mistake!
It took no time at all for the backlash or “black-lash” to spark within the hair community & for Shea Moisture to issue an immediate apology as it pulled the commercial, saying in short, “We F-ed up.” The kinky girls are not here for the virtual slap in the face. But is it a ploy? Did Shea Moisture just want their name in the digital headlines? They know which demographic invests the most in their products & it’s not the models in their recent commercials. Too many companies are adapting that byline of bad press is still press. But at what cost? Is the “15 minute” phenomenon worth it to alienate & anger your target consumer for the prospect of new customers? We’ll see shortly.
So far Shea Moisture has been the topic of discussion since the commercial aired on Monday, April 24th. It’s so calculated it seems planned. It’s upsetting when insta-friends do the most for likes, but when it comes to national brands the question is just how pressed for press are you?