The Margin: Ulta apologizes for Kate Spade email that mistakenly referenced the designer’s death


Ulta Beauty

pushed an email on Sunday night that promoted Kate Spade New York fragrances with a 15% off discount. But many shoppers were turned off by the tone-deaf subject line that accidentally referenced the designer’s 2018 death. 

Spade was found dead in her New York apartment in June of that year, at the age of 55. Her death was ruled a suicide by hanging, and her tragic loss renewed conversations about mental health causes and suicide prevention. Kate Spade New York donated $1 million to suicide prevention groups to honor its founder’s death. (Tapestry, Inc.

— formerly known as Coach — has owned the Kate Spade brand since 2017.)

Ulta’s email on Sunday, however, invited shoppers to “Come hang with Kate Spade,” which led recipients to take to Twitter

to call out the company for being “insensitive” and “absolutely tone deaf.” 

What’s more, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. 

“Apparently nobody in marketing at Ulta remembers how Kate Spade died. Disgusting,” tweeted one email recipient. 

“How did no one at @ultabeauty not catch how totally f—ed this is?” tweeted another. “Ulta no.”

This led Ulta Beauty to trend on real-time Google

searches Monday afternoon as the news spread. And it also led Google searches for “Kate Spade death” to spike 1,250% compared with this time last week. 

A rep for Ulta shared an apology with TMZ. Here’s the statement in full: 

“Ulta Beauty recently sent an email featuring Kate Spade New York fragrance with an insensitive subject line and for this, we sincerely apologize. Mental health is a very serious, important issue in this country, and not something we would ever take lightly. We apologize to the Spade family, our Kate Spade New York brand partners and to our guests. Thank you for understanding as we strive to do better.”

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the free, confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Additional resources include the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741), the Veterans Crisis Line (press 1 after dialing the national Lifeline), the Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth (1-866-488-7386), the Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline (call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746).

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