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Ulta Beauty halts ad spending at Teen Vogue amid racist-tweets uproar

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A major advertiser at Teen Vogue, the retailer Ulta Beauty, said it has "paused" ad spending at the Conde Nast media property amid a growing outcry over anti-Asian tweets by the fashion site's new editor in chief, Alexi McCammond.

"Diversity and inclusion have always been core values at Ulta Beauty," a company spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday. "We stand against racism in all forms and as we've publicly shared in our social channels, we stand in unity with the [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community. We believe it's important that our partners share our values. Our discussions with Conde Nast are actively underway as we seek to better understand their next steps and determine ours."

McCammond, 27, was a noted political journalist before Conde Nast announced earlier this month she'll replace Lindsay Peoples Wagner at digital-only Teen Vogue. Soon after the announcement, since-deleted tweets stretching back to 2011, when McCammond was in college, resurfaced, including several using racist and homophobic stereotypes. McCammond is Black.

While Teen Vogue has stood by McCammond's appointment, detractors have spoken out on social media and McCammond has apologized. More than 20 staff members at Teen Vogue posted a statement Monday saying they've written management in support of readers and others alarmed by the tweets, noting that they come at a time of "historically high anti-Asian violence and amid the ongoing struggles of the LGBTQ community."

McCammond had worked for Axios and was an on-air contributor for MSNBC. In her latest apology, posted on social media, she said: "This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life, in large part because of the intense pain I know my words and my announcement have caused so many of you. ... I've apologized for my past racist and homophobic tweets and will reiterate that there's no excuse for perpetuating those awful stereotypes in any way."

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The tweets first surfaced in 2019, when she said she was "deeply sorry" and that the posts "do not reflect my views or who I am today."

A spokeswoman for Teen Vogue did not immediately respond to an email request for comment Thursday.

Ulta Beauty's ad pause was first reported by The Daily Beast.

Ulta has its own problems

For Ulta, the timing of its decision to suspend ad spending at the teen publication may be seen as interesting. Shares of the Bolingbrook, Illinois-based company plunged more than 9% on Friday on the announcement that its CEO Mary Dillon, one of only a few dozen female chief executives of Fortune 500 companies, is stepping down after a highly successful 8 years. 

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During Dillon's tenure as CEO, Ulta's stock more than tripled. The company doubled its number of stores to upwards of 1,200, and it joined both the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 listings, the company said. Ulta announced a deal with Target last year to open up mini cosmetics shops inside of Target stores to try to sell makeup and skincare to more shoppers. 

The company has also had race-related problems of its own. It has faced accusations of racial profiling of customers in stores and criticism over a lack of diversity in brands it carries. 

The company recently hired actor and fashion icon Tracee Ellis Ross as a diversity and inclusion adviser as it has started to implement a broader initiative on those fronts. Those steps include a promise to double the number of Black-owned brands available on their shelves and a $20 million campaign to reach out to customers of color and other underrepresented groups.

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