What John Demsey Said on Instagram As Estée Lauder Exec Fired

A senior Estée Lauder executive was fired after sharing an offensive meme to Instagram last week.

John Demsey, 65, was terminated from the makeup company after he posted a cartoon to his personal account that contained a racial slur.

After 30 years at the company, Demsey was suspended from his role as executive group president of the American multinational and has publicly apologized to fans for posting a picture on social media containing the n-word.

Estée Lauder confirmed that Demsey was terminated as a result of the post which does "not reflect the values of the Estée Lauder Companies," they said in a statement per CNN, stating that the post caused "widespread offense."

"This decision is the 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 statement reads. "Our employees, and especially our senior leaders, are accountable to continue driving our progress and to respect the values of this company for the long term."

What Did John Demsey Say on Instagram?

The post in question, according to The Wall Street Journal, was of a mock book cover based on Sesame Street that spoofed COVID-19.

It featured the character Snuffleupagus in bed with a fever as Big Bird looked on.

"My [n-word] Snuffy done got the 'rona at a Chingy concert," read the meme, with asterisks blocking out the letters in the slur.

It is still being widely circulated on Twitter. The post has since been deleted but the backlash was immediate and Demsey's downfall swift.

John Demsey
John Demsey attends the 2019 WWD Beauty Inc Awards at The Rainbow Room on December 11, 2019 in New York City. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Demsey—who worked for some of the company's biggest brands like MAC and Clinique—said he was "deeply ashamed" and issued an apology on Instagram on Friday.

"Not only did I hurt many people whom I respect, the terrible mistake that I made has undermined everything I have been working for since I began my career 31 years ago," he wrote in the post.

"I hope that in time people will judge me, not for this awful mistake, but for my lifetime of words and actions, which demonstrate my respect for all people."

The reaction on social media led to the rapper mentioned in the post, Chingy, to become a trending topic on Twitter.

"How do you go home to your family and tell them you lost your job over a Chingy meme," reads one viral tweet.

Demsey was initially placed on unpaid leave, with Fabrizio Freda, chief executive, and William Lauder, chairman, explaining in an internal memo seen by The Wall Street Journal that "the content posted does not represent the values of The Estée Lauder Companies."

"Effective immediately, John Demsey is being placed on unpaid leave due to content posted on his Instagram handle," the statement reads. "The content posted does not represent the values of The Estée Lauder Companies. As a company deeply committed to inclusive actions and behavior, and in line without company policies, our employees and our leadership are accountable for upholding these values."