Purple may have been in last season, but an anonymous source tells the New York Daily News that Yahoo Beauty Editor-in-Chief Bobbi Brown and Style Editor-in-Chief Joe Zee are over it. Both are reportedly fighting with Yahoo top brass over the color’s ubiquity on the site. According to the source, “They think it’s really uncool and dorky and they’re trying to bring them into a cooler world.”
Yahoo has had the color purple splashed all over its site from the beginning, long before cosmetics megabrand founder Brown was hired in April or Zee, the former Elle magazine creative director, was hired in September. Both Brown and Zee, according to the source, think purple is too reminiscent of Yahoo’s “techie” origins. There's no word yet on what color, if any, they are suggesting as an alternative.
The reports of a spat over Yahoo’s signature color come after earlier reports of internal unrest. According to a NY Daily News report from July, there have been complaints among staffers that Brown doesn’t do enough as editor-in-chief and often stays in her Montclair, New Jersey, home rather than commute to Yahoo's Manhattan office.
There have also been concerns about the implications of having the head of a cosmetics company also at the helm of beauty editorial. “[I]t creates an absolutely obvious conflict of interest,” Kelly McBride, co-author of "The New Ethics of Journalism," told the Guardian. “The reason that people would turn to Yahoo Beauty is for independent news and analysis on a specialty topic. If you have an editor who has a vested financial interest in a product line, news consumers are automatically going to assume that that product line gets preferential treatment. And so it doesn't even matter if it actually does get preferential treatment, the perception alone will damage Yahoo's credibility."
Bobbi Brown cosmetics accounts for more than 10 percent of parent company Estee Lauder’s sales, according to the New York Times. Lauder’s sales through June were $10.7 billion.
Neither Brown nor Zee has said anything publicly about the alleged dispute.