Shea Moisture Has Been Direct Messaging Black Influencers Unhappy With Its Recent VaynerMedia Ads

By Patrick Coffee 

As you all know, Shea Moisture and its new AOR VaynerMedia ran into trouble this week when Black Twitter registered its disapproval of the first ad in the brand’s new campaign.

The issue, as blogger and marketer Marie Denee explained to Adweek, wasn’t that the new spot featured two white women. It was that the brand’s longtime customers—the vast majority of whom are African American—felt dismissed.

As Denee put it, an ideal campaign would have featured a variety of women in all the spots rather than creating one clearly aimed at a white audience. She specifically referenced Grey’s recent Pantene ad, which celebrated black women and said “the climate was very unfavorable” to release such a campaign at a time when both Shea Moisture and Carol’s Daughter have been accused of “whitewashing.”


The company has been playing defense, and now its marketing team has directly contacted some of the influencers who made their opinions clear on social media.

They’ve also been calling out VaynerMedia, which has yet to respond publicly to the controversy.

Earlier this week, Richelieu Dennis, CEO of Shea Moisture parent company Sundial Brands, talked to Fast Company about what he’s learned from the experience.

He said:

“The people who are unhappy here aren’t necessarily saying they don’t like white women. What they are saying is, for decades they’ve been underserved and white women have plenty of products on the shelves and advertising aimed at them, and that we should keep our focus on our audience, and not lose that focus just because we’re broadening our audience.”

It’s very close to what the brand’s loyalists said. But according to several of the people who tweeted about the campaign, members of Shea Moisture’s marketing team have been reaching out to them directly to explain what happened.

The response has not been universally positive.

Despite continuing to be very active on Twitter, Gary Vaynerchuk has yet to respond to all these mentions.

One user went so far as to share a picture of the agency’s purported account team.

Shea’s PR firm also has not commented on the (still alleged) direct messaging efforts by its marketing department.