Shea Moisture CEO defend need to expand brand share despite ad controversy on social media

4/27/2017, 9:24 a.m.
In part two of an exclusive News One Now interview, host and managing editor Roland Martin spoke with Richelieu Dennis, ...
Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of Shea Moisture / courtesy credit: TV One/News One Now courtesy credit: TV One/News One Now

— In part two of an exclusive News One Now interview, host and managing editor Roland Martin spoke with Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of Shea Moisture parent company Sundial Brands, about the original intent of the ad posted on Shea Moisture’s Facebook page which sparked a social media frenzy on Monday. Dennis explained that the video, which depicts white women and a fair-skinned person of color, is one in a series of 24 videos that were planned to discuss the varying needs of hair-types and the products that could solve that. Dennis maintains the need to expand the brand to reach a larger consumer pool stems from the increasing competition the company is facing from national brands seeking market share and shelf space in the ethnic hair care market.

“This is a very culturally important conversation and natural hair and Black women and hair is a very important expression of self. Anything that doesn’t show an understanding of that, I think would receive these types of responses,” said Dennis. “And for us, we’re not changing our formulas, we are not changing the consumer that we serve, even as we grow, but we are in a position that if we don’t grow, the things that people love about Shea Moisture…the millions of dollars that we invest in our community congress projects in Ghana, and the educational scholarships that we provide to folks here in America, would not be sustainable over time.”

Although the ads were approved, Dennis admitted that the sequence of distribution was missed.

“The series had been approved, but when it actually got cut up for the small snippet that goes onto social media, that was missed,” he said. “The way that it was executed… it’s very clear how this conversation would have to occur because what’s really happening is we as a community and Black women as a whole have moved this culture forward around hair. And what we’re really trying to not do is lose the momentum that we’ve gained and the accomplishments that we have around your being able to wear your hair they way that you want to wear it. We’ve been fighting that struggle with Black women for 25 years.”

Shea Moisture makes over 150 products for different hair types. To watch the entire conversation, click the links below.

Shea Moisture Pushes Back Against The Backlash Over Their Controversial Ad https://youtu.be/VTmwsi0om_A

(courtesy credit: TV One/News One Now)

Following the segment, Martin further discussed the Shea Moisture controversy with panelists Attorney A. Scott Bolden, Republican Strategist Rina Shah Bharara, and Dr. Gregory Carr for their take on whether the company should reach out to other ethnicities.

Stated Bolden, “Black people and people of color, we take possessory interest with no investment in Black companies, Black shows, Black everything – we do! And until we match up the possessory interest with our investment, then we can really complain. Right now we complain because we don’t like the ad and maybe the ad could’ve been done differently. But we’ve got to take ownership, not just an interest, in these companies if we want them to last as African American companies.”