What Can We Learn from the Lowe’s Ad Pulling Effort

Posted by on Dec 13, 2011

This week Lowe’s got a lesson in media relations improvement when they pulled their advertising from All-American Muslim, a reality TV show that tracked the everyday lives of Muslim families living in Detroit, MI. The show is designed to educate the public that people are people are people — moms, dads, daughters and sons — just going about their day.

Lowes made the decision to support this education on diversity which was in line with their corporate values and brand, and then pulled their ads under pressure from the Florida Family Association who thinks that Muslims are trying to take over the world. Isn’t that like equating all Germans are still world dominators because of World War II? The Florida Family Association is a Christian based group, but I won’t lump all Christians into their thinking and actions anymore than I will lump all Muslims into one group. That would be stupid, wouldn’t it?

The decision by Lowe’s to drop the ads came after pressure from a conservative evangelical Christian group, the Florida Family Association…The group targets companies that advertise on programs involving Muslims as well as gays and lesbians. Detroit Free Press

The leader of the Florida Family Association is David Caton, a 55-year-old family values crusader who left an accounting career to found the group in 1987. He said the association has 35,000 members who were urged to email Lowe’s to pressure the home improvement giant into dropping commercials during the TLC cable network show “All-American Muslim.” Huffington Post

Regardless of how senseless this is, what did we learn?

1. People pressure works. An organization of 35,000 with email can affect the decisions of a major American company.

2. Expect more people pressure when common sense is breached. The court of public opinion is backlashing this ad pulling move.

3. If Corporations are people… then their brand (or personality) needs to stay consistent otherwise they can’t be trusted.  Stand for something or stand for nothing.

Other corporations are watching and what they do next will reveal the true heart and soul of our American spirit and culture.  Will they also banish any advertising on shows supporting Muslims/gays/whatever… or will they extend their own internal policies on diversity which are embedded into sustainability standards, to include how they promote themselves externally to the public?

What else have we learned? On one level, this is a conversation about how groups with the biggest wallet carries the most clout. While no company can afford to tick off any group, they also can’t afford to blow their brand in the process of taking sides.

On a bigger picture level, it’s also about how individuals, when banded together, can take their grievances directly to the offending corporation using the court of public opinion as their judge and jury vs. the court of law and political action.

Either way, money and influence talks. If your group has more public influence than another, even the biggest of corporations will pay attention. Boycotts and Girlcotts aren’t new, they’ve just been taken up a notch.

I sincerely hope that Lowes never stops improving and starts aligning their internal socially responsible policies with their external actions.

12.14.2011 more results just in… 

Lowe’s had over 20,000 comments on its Facebook page and then they pulled that page as well.  They then put up a second post explaining why they took down the first post which was explaining why they pulled the ads to begin with.  “Google the phrase “Lowe’s Facebook Muslim” and you’ll discover more than 1,700 news stories.” 

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