Estee Lauder Group CEO John Demsey triggered a strong public controversy when he posted a comment containing racial slurs and jokes about the pandemic on his personal Instagram account. After deliberations by the group’s management, Estée Lauder announced the dismissal of John Demsey. <Related Article:Estee Lauder Exec John Demsey Suspended over Improper Comment on Instagram>
On February 28, Estee Lauder Group released news that Estee Lauder Group Executive President John Demsey must leave the company this week due to inappropriate comments made on social media platforms.
Public information shows that John Demsey, a graduate of Stanford University and New York University, joined Estee Lauder in 1991 as vice president of sales for the West Coast region of the Estee Lauder brand, and was subsequently promoted to senior vice president of sales for the brand in 1993. He was promoted to President of M-A-C in 1998 and has been President of the Estée Lauder Group since 2006. He has been the Group’s Executive President since January 2016. As of the end of February this year, his tenure at Estée Lauder Group is more than 30 years.
According to a release on Estée Lauder Group’s official website, Demsey’s departure was due to an Instagram post last week. It was reported that Demsey posted a spoof image from the U.S. TV show Sesame Street on his Instagram, which contained the “n” word (insulting to black people) and an inappropriate description of the pandemic, triggering strong public controversy. The post has now been removed.
After the incident happened, Demsey was suspended by Estee Lauder Group in the first time. In a February 28 update, Estee Lauder Group asked Demsey to leave the company, effective this week. It is worth noting that Estée Lauder Group said he will retire on March 4, 2022 in a filing.
As a veteran of more than 30 years, Demsey’s journey at Estee Lauder Group has come to a less than “dignified” end. Following the news, Estée Lauder shares closed down 1.37% to $296.22 per share on March 1.
“The decision is a result of his recent Instagram posts, which do not reflect the values of The Estée Lauder Companies, have caused widespread offense, are damaging to our efforts to drive inclusivity both inside and outside our walls, and do not reflect the judgment we expect of our leaders,” the company said its memo.
Information on the Estee Lauder Group website shows that as Group Executive, Demsey manages an extensive portfolio of brands including M-A-C, Clinique, BECCA, Too Faced, Smashbox, GLAMGLOW and TOM FORD BEAUTY. In addition to building the brand portfolio, Demsey leads the company’s enterprise-level creative organization and oversees the Center for Creative Excellence, which focuses on the continued development of creative capabilities and talent across the company.
Demsey is considered a creative visionary, strategic thinker and brand builder, according to Estée Lauder Group. He has extensive experience in the premium beauty and luxury retail industries.
Demsey is known for connecting brands to pop culture, and in doing so, he is said to be the driving force behind Tom Ford Beauty, which began as a collaboration between Tom Ford and Estee Lauder brands and has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar stand-alone brand. Demsey also led the global growth of M-A-C as he built the makeup artist brand into a global cosmetics giant expanding distribution from 19 markets to more than 75.
The professional manager with extensive experience in the beauty field is credited with being the key manager in bringing makeup such as M-A-C and TOM FORD BEAUTY to the global market successfully. According to Estee Lauder Group’s latest financial results, its cosmetics net sales increased 12%, with its growth led by Estee Lauder and M-A-C, with Too Faced, Tom Ford Beauty and Smashbox also contributing to color cosmetics growth.
In addition, Clinique, overseen by Demsey, also became a key growth area for Estée Lauder Group in skincare, which said in its latest earnings report that net skincare sales grew in every region, led by strong double-digit sales growth from La Mer and Clinique.
In fact, Demsey’s tenure at Estée Lauder Group coincided with a period of rapid growth in China.
During his tenure, Demsey revitalized the Estée Lauder brand’s premium image, signed a new spokesperson and focused its growth on high-performance skincare in Asia, particularly in China.
According to incomplete statistics, Estee Lauder Group has more than 13 brands entering the China market, including cosmetics, skincare and fragrances. Taking Demsey-led brands as an example, in 2020, Too Faced, a beauty trend brand targeting Generation Z, officially entered the Chinese market through the Chinese import retail platform Tmall Global and Too Faced’s official Tmall flagship store received 310,000 followers on its first day of opening.
Today, China has become the largest international market for Estée Lauder Group worldwide. The rapid development of Estee Lauder Group in China is naturally inseparable from Demsey’s contribution. As a veteran, his words and actions represent Estee Lauder, and his departure will definitely have an impact on Estee Lauder Group. It is still unknown as to who will take over.