On May 2 2022, myriad social media accounts posted about an unfortunate Ulta/Kate Spade promotion, with horrified postings to Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit about a poorly-conceived email:
Ulta is a chain of beauty stores, known for its combination of “drugstore” products sold along high-end brands, such as Kate Spade, who was a well-known designer primarily associated with her handbags, whose line branched out to a large variety of accessories and clothing.
Spade died of suicide by hanging in June 2018:
Kate Brosnahan Spade, who created an iconic, accessible handbag line that bridged Main Street and high-end fashion, hanged herself in an apparent suicide [on June 5 2018] at her Manhattan apartment, according to New York Police Department sources.
Police responded at 10:10 a.m. after Spade was found by her housekeeper, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said. A suicide note was found at the scene, he said. Spade addressed her daughter in the note, according to two NYPD sources. Spade’s husband also is referenced in the note, according to one of the sources.
In the screenshots of the May 2022 email, a subject header, the primary focus of users’ ire, was visible:
Come hang with Kate Spade and get $15 off 💕
Several different screenshots were easy to find. One Twitter user wrote:
— Courtney Val (@courtneywval) May 1, 2022
In the above tweet, the user acknowledged the two unfortunate and relevant details present in the nine-word-long subject header. On Ulta’s Facebook page, recent and unrelated posts’ comment sections were filled with remarks from appalled Ulta shoppers:
“Seriously, Ulta? “Come HANG with Kate Spade?” I honestly can’t thing of anything more tasteless. You need to fix this and apologize. Mental illness is not a joke and whoever created this ad needs to be educated or reprimanded or both.”
“Came here to see if others were shocked at the email as well. I can’t believe that it was ok’d by the editors.”
“Has Ulta Beauty apologized yet? Have they made any comments? By not responding to us, it shows they condone this horrific behavior.”
“I was expecting to see a prominent apology for the extremely insensitive email referring to Kate Spade. Suicide is no joke!”
The sheer volume of varying screenshots indicated the email was authentic, received (poorly) by many Ulta shoppers. On Facebook, we were unable to locate any interaction from Ulta’s account acknowledging the “come hang” Kate Spade email controversy.
On Twitter, many people tagged @ultabeauty asking the account to explain and address the Kate Spade email. The account replied to at least one customer about an unrelated matter on May 1 2022, but then ceased interacting on Twitter.
On May 2 2022, screenshots of an promotional Ulta Kate Spade (“come hang”) email were shared to Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. Ulta shoppers were shocked and horrified at the brief subject line, inviting them to “come hang” with the late designer, and the apparently unintentional reference to her death by suicide. The email was real, but Ulta did not seem to have acknowledged it as of midday on May 2 2022.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at (800) 273-8255; the Trans Lifeline at 1- tel:877-565-8860; or the Trevor Project at (866) 488-7386. Text “START” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. If you don’t like the phone, connect to the Lifeline Crisis Chat at http://crisischat.org.