As textbook cases of corporate timidity go, it’s hard to top Lowe’s’ classic over-reaction to a letter-writing campaign regarding the TLC show “All-American Muslim.”
Put simply, in trying to swat away a fly, the home-improvement chain stumbled straight into a hornets’ nest.
To briefly recap, something called the Florida Family Assn. complained to Lowe’s about buying time in the show, so the company yanked its spots. Lowe’s no doubt assumed it was making the problem go away, without realizing that in cases such as these, closing one can of worms often means opening a much bigger one.
That’s because unlike a lot of the crap on TLC, there’s nothing much in “All-American Muslim” — a series meant to put a human face on the U.S.’ Muslim minority — to offend or antagonize anyone. So Lowe’s wound up bowing to pressure tactics that are more offensive and antithetical to American values than anything in the show.
In the bigger scheme of things, it’s really a non-news story, since sponsors move money around all the time — and often pull spots when faced with criticism, only to return when the heat blows over. Besides, Lowe’s can advertise wherever it wants.
Still, the New York Daily News’ David Hinckley got it right when he wrote that Lowe’s’ statement seeking to explain its actions was “the corporate version of a babbling idiot,” appearing to say religious bigotry is a valid point of view in trying to stay above the fray.
Given that, it would be nice for consumers — Muslim or otherwise — to temporarily take their home-improvement needs to Home Depot or OSH. If nothing else, that might provide Lowe’s the incentive to be smarter the next time something like this happens — unless it wants to devote a lot of its time and marketing resources to repairing its own image.